Earlier this year Melissa Pace from Taylor Truck Driving School reached out to Brown Line after receiving a call from the Salvation Army Helping Hands Food Bank in Anacortes, WA. "The food bank needed a refrigerated trailer to hold their food because they were replacing their freezer, which could take two weeks," explains Brown Line President Bill Johansen. "We said we would be glad to help." Brown Line Safety Supervisor Eric Swatling coordinated with the Salvation Army and delivered a truck and trailer himself. Eric is pictured right with Salvation Army Captain Susan Cassin in Anacortes.
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Brown Line's 'bread and butter' is the I-5 corridor from Washington to California. Four days a week drivers make the trip hauling fresh and frozen fish, chicken and other refrigerated products up and down the coast.
"We also haul some lesser-known types of freight, like sea urchin and Kombucha," explains Riley Rosvold, Brown Lines Sales Manager. The round, spiky creatures are harvested for the eggs inside, called roe, which is used in sushi. Brown Line is the only carrier in the Pacific Northwest trusted to carry the high-value, temperature-sensitive freight.
Divers bring the urchins to the surface during the winter months and they are delivered to Brown Line for transport to Oxnard and Los Angeles, CA. They are then processed and the roe is flown to Japan.
"We are diversifying our freight hauls," Riley says. "In the past, Brown Line has been reliant on the seafood industry, but now we are moving into more dairy and vegan products." Offering both truckload and LTL service throughout the U.S. and Western Canada, Brown Line provides companies with a variety of delivery options.
"Natural foods businesses are turning to us for reliable and safe delivery of yogurt-based drinks, vegan protein drinks and probiotics like Kombucha fermented tea." Every Thursday, Brown Line drivers pick up approximately 30,000 pounds of LTL freight from Yakult USA in Fountain Valley, CA and deliver to locations throughout the Pacific Northwest and Canada, including grocery stores in Oregon and Washington.
"Our freight is extremely time-sensitive due to short shelf life and expiration dates, so we have to be vigilant about traffic, deadlines and equipment," Riley explains. "Many customers shipping fresh and chill products have sell-by dates which are less than a week after production. It is a testament to our driving teams and dispatchers that our customers trust us to deliver their products at the peak of freshness and quality – especially in the congested Los Angeles area. Routing our trucks efficiently and effectively is imperative."
Jon Morris credits Brown Line with the successful startup of his company Ocean Life Enterprises of Anacortes, WA last year. "Not once during the entire season did we fail to deliver on time," he says.
Last year Brown Line took delivery of 12 reefer trailers featuring the TransTex Edge TopKit Aerodynamic System which provide a 5.5 percent improvement in fuel mileage. In addition, 17 fuel-efficient Freightliner Cascadia Trucks were purchased that average 8 miles per gallon. The state-of-the-art equipment helps drivers get the job done, protects the fragile freight and gives customers confidence in the company. "We get feedback that our clean and modern equipment is one more reason customers place their trust in us," Riley says.
Lynden is recognizing employees who make a difference every day on the job and demonstrate our core values, Lynden's very own everyday heroes! Employees are nominated by managers and supervisors from all roles within the Lynden family of companies. Learn more about the people behind your shipment.
Introducing Matthew Malmkar, Dispatcher at Brown Line in Mt. Vernon, Washington.
Name: Matthew Malmkar
Company: Brown Line
On the job since: 2016
Superpower: Seeing the big picture
Hometown: Grant, Nebraska
Favorite Movie: Star Wars: The Force Awakens
Bucket List Destination: The island of Madagascar
For Fun: Travel, following politics and finance, and playing poker at casinos
How did you start your career at Lynden?
After leaving the Navy in 2014, I earned my CDL and was looking for a new career. My brother Michael was a Brown Line driver for many years, and I started driving with him as a team in 2016. We drove together for four months and then a family medical situation required him to move back to Nebraska so he left the company. Together, we drove to Los Angeles, Houston and Alaska a few times for Brown Line. I kept driving locally and was then promoted to dispatch at the end of last year.
What is a typical day like for you?
I live 45 minutes away in Oak Harbor, WA, so I have a commute to work in Mount Vernon, but I don't mind because I am very proud of my waterfront property. My back yard is a state park with beautiful views of the water. I picked a job to be close to where I live.
My typical day varies. We are going through a big change to implement new software for our operating system so my hours are flexible these days. I often arrive about 10 a.m. and work until 8 p.m. I have sometimes needed to stay until 2 a.m. to take care of changes. It's a big hurdle for everyone here, so we are all pulling together.
What has been most challenging in your career?
In dispatch, we sometimes deal with urgent issues the minute we sit down to start the day. Dispatchers are often in the eye of the storm. It's always helpful to see things from the other person's perspective (driver or customer) and where they are coming from. It takes a whole team to do the work we do every day.
What is your military background?
I served in the United States Navy from 1993 to 2014. During that time I was deployed during Operation Iraqi Freedom and flew off an aircraft carrier in S3B Vikings aircraft. I started in the military as an enlisted and retired as an officer. I earned my pilot's license while in the military.
What are you most proud of in your career?
I received the Driver of the Month and Driver of the Year Awards for Brown Line and am very proud of that. I also have been asked to train other employees, which is a privilege. Brown Line management promoted me from driver to dispatcher last year. It was, and still is, my plan to move up the ladder and into operations here.
Can you tell us about your family and growing up years?
I was born in a small town in Nebraska. I am the oldest of three. I have a younger brother and sister and my parents live with me in Oak Harbor. I'm single with a 23-year old daughter. She just finished college at Western Washington University in Bellingham and still lives there.
What was your first job?
I refueled planes at a dirt airstrip in Nebraska. I have always been interested in aviation.
What would surprise most people about you?
I am pretty good at poker and have made a lot of money playing in casinos. I just returned from a trip to New Zealand and Australia. In my 20-year military career I have flown over a lot of countries and was stationed in Japan for six months. One place I haven't visited is South America. I would love to see Argentina and Brazil.
How do you spend your time outside of work?
I like to play games. I have played a lot of poker at casinos over the years and have made a profit the past two years from my games, but I don't play that much anymore.
One of my goals is to have a tranquil balance of life and work. There is always stress, but you have to know your limits and when you are running low on reserves and nearing burnout. If you are facing an obstacle, you have to keep the faith that you can make it up to and past the peak and over to the other side.
What do you like best about your job?
The challenge of trying to keep the loads and drivers going where they need to go. I have been a driver myself, so I think I make a pretty good dispatcher. My experience with the military helps, too. Organization and communication are key in my past role in the Navy and my new role in dispatch at Brown Line.
The Harvest against Hunger program connects farmers with hunger relief efforts in communities across Washington state to reduce hunger and food waste. This past year, Brown Line provided much needed transportation services for the effort. "With our support, Harvest against Hunger provided over a million pounds of healthy produce to hungry individuals and families across Washington and beyond," says Brown Line President Bill Johansen. "Our team takes pride in helping those in need in our community."
We would like to recognize the following Lynden employees who retired this past year. We are grateful for their service and contributions to Lynden, and we wish them well on their new adventures!
Steve McQueary – Brown Line, 40 years
Steve (photo to the right) started working for Brown Line in 1979 with a short break in between to serve as an expert for U.S. Customs in the ACE Truck Manifest Program. In his 40-year career, he has been a driver, dock manager, dispatcher, general and sales manager. "As we are a small company, I also assisted in accounts payables, loaded trucks, received freight, handled insurance, cleaned the kitchen and did whatever needed to be done. I have also assisted other Lynden companies with FDA compliance," he says.
In the 1970s, truckloads of frozen salmon were packed in 100-pound boxes, halibut was shipped loose on the floor stacked like cord wood and full loads of King Crab sections were common. "I haven't seen a truckload of 100-pound salmon boxes shipped in years, it is now illegal to ship halibut on the floor, and the halibut quotas have decreased by 80 percent from what they were in the 70s," Steve says. "The value of King Crab makes it difficult for most buyers to buy a truckload."
Other changes Steve has seen in his career: freight ships on pallets and all trucks have a pallet jack. "In the 70s, everything we hauled was floor loaded and we used hand trucks. Paper log books were used for hours, drivers were more independent as there were no cell phones, and it was at their discretion to call in, much to the chagrin of the dispatchers. That world no longer exists with cell phones, satellite tracking, electronic logs and truck sensors."
Steve's most memorable project involved Trident Seafoods. "One of their overseas plants had run out of product and shut down," he recalls. "Sixty loads were sitting south of Seattle that needed to be shipped to Bellingham in a 3-day period. I had no clue on how we would cover it, but said that we would. Trident had turned around a vessel that was already at sea to return to Bellingham to pick this product up. We worked with other Lynden companies, using as many rigs as possible and saved Trident money by reducing the number of truckloads and delivering it all on time. This was a great "One Lynden" example. I took pride that Trident trusted me to get it done and that, at Lynden, nothing can stop us."
Retirement will bring home and woodworking projects, fishing, camping, golfing and touring the country with his wife in their Mustang convertible. "It's been a great career," Steve says. "I've made a lot of friends and enjoyed being a part of the Lynden family."
Cherri Webby – Lynden Transport, 32 years
Cherri (photo to the right) started her career in 1987 as a Customer Service Representative in Ketchikan. "We worked for Arrowhead Transfer and were agents for Lynden Transport and Alaska Marine Lines. Lynden Transport used the highway to Prince Rupert, then the Alaska Marine Highway system to deliver freight in Southeast Alaska," she says. "Alaska Marine Lines had one weekly barge that serviced Southeast." In 2002, Cherri moved to Seattle and went to work for Alaska Marine Lines as a customer service representative, later becoming the manager of the department. Three years later, she went to work for Lynden Transport as Director of Customer Service.
"The biggest change I have seen in my career is the streamlining of our processes to move freight," she says. "From receiving the shipment, to moving the shipment from the dock to the trailer, to the customer, it has become much more efficient." Cherri's retirement plans include travel and family time.
Gary Schmahl – Lynden Air Cargo, 22 years
Gary (photo to the right) began his career as an inspector with Lynden Air Cargo in 1997. He moved into Quality Control as a manager of scheduled maintenance and ended his career as a project manager. He has watched the company expand from two leased Electras to 10 L382 Hercules aircraft.
"My best memory is bringing six foreign aircraft onto the U.S. registry from 2005 to 2019," he says. "I have been the Quality Control Representative for over 130 B Checks and C Checks since 1999 in Singapore, the U.K., Canada and elsewhere." A B Check is a two-week maintenance and service check, and a C Check is a six-week heavy inspection and maintenance check," he says.
Gary's retirement plans include outdoor sports and traveling. He has a winter home in the Ozark Mountains for fishing and a home in Anchorage to enjoy the Alaska summers. "I would like to thank Lynden and all its good people and leadership for the past 22 years," he says. "There has been a lot of travel (1.5 million miles on Delta alone) and plenty of new experiences around the world. I had a lot of responsibility and all the tools to handle the tasks plus the appreciation for a job well done."
Paul Willing – Lynden Air Cargo, 20 years
Paul Willing (photo to the right) has been part of Lynden Air Cargo for almost 21 years, first as Director of Quality Control from 1999 to 2007 and then as Vice President of Maintenance from 2007 to 2019. In that time, he watched the company grow from an Alaskan operation to a worldwide company. "I really enjoyed the aircraft acquisitions over the years in Singapore, France and South Africa," Paul says, "and working with the dedicated and talented professionals at Lynden Air Cargo." His most memorable project was starting an airline in Papua New Guinea. Paul will start the new decade and his retirement with winter travel and spending more time sailing. "I would like to thank Lynden for the challenges and opportunities," he says.
Bob Weeks – Lynden Inc., 16 years
Bob has played an important part behind the scenes at Lynden for the past 16 years. Starting as a CPA in the Tax Department, he worked on corporate tax returns and conducted internal audits of operating companies for compliance and other issues.
The audits sometimes took months and Bob enjoyed getting to know each company's processes and talking to the people. "Alaska Marine Lines probably has the most assets in the most places of any Lynden company. Keeping track of every piece of equipment is a challenge," he says. "At the end of one particular audit, they were able to locate every asset, down to one last container at the bottom of a stack during their busy fish season."
Looking back, Bob's biggest challenge was learning the foreign tax laws necessary for setting up Lynden's new companies in Papua New Guinea and Ghana, Africa.
Retirement will bring motorhome trips with his wife, Rena, to Arizona and national parks in Utah. "I will enjoy not waking up at 5:01 a.m. every morning," he says, "but Lynden was a great company to work for."
Oksana Begej – Alaska Marine Lines, 38 years
Fish Queen. That is one of the titles Alaska Marine Lines Human Resources Director Oksana Begej listed when asked for her career information. After 38 years, she is entitled to a little fun. Oksana started her career back in 1982 when multipage invoices were typed on electric typewriters. "We went through a lot of whiteout!" she says.
Starting as Office Manager in Seattle, she moved into customer service, dispatch and finally human resources. "My best memories are the fabulous people I have worked with," she says, "and my favorite project would be skeleton entry where we didn't have to dig through piles of bills of lading to see if a shipment was received. That was a total game changer for us and our customers at the time."
Now that she is retired, Oksana plans to enjoy more time with her husband. "Alaska Marine Lines and Lynden are amazing and have provided a wonderful career for me and benefits for my family."
Pictured above retirees Bob Weeks, Oksana Begej and Eric Linde
Eric Linde – Alaska Marine Lines, 24 years
Eric Linde has worked in various areas at Alaska Marine Lines during his 24 years, mostly providing leadership and management of Service Centers or Maintenance and Repair (M&R).
One of his best career memories was the Ketchikan Bypass. "We had 100 custom 20-foot containers made that could carry 100K pounds of bulk cement and other bulk products. A new forklift design was required with a lifting capacity of more than 100,000 pounds. We built and assembled transfer system conveyors and bag houses along with a tipper system that assisted in the transfer of bulk cement products from the containers to trailers on the Ketchikan end. It was a BIG job," he remembers.
Eric also commented on the changes in containers over the years. "I watched containers get bigger and heavier – from standard gauge to 10' high and 102" wide with increased gross weights. We had to increase the forklift size and carrying capacity and ability to stack them higher. Then we had new barges built to carry the larger containers and handle the increase in freight volumes. It's been amazing to see and be part of Lynden's futuristic ideas that have become the norm here at Alaska Marine Lines," he says.
Selah, WA is where Eric and his wife have decided to spend their retirement years. Their home is on acreage with a shop for Eric to enjoy his hobby of restoring antique farm tractors and agriculture equipment. "I am an avid snow and water skier, so I hope to spend more time in those activities now. We also have plans to continue to travel and see our National Parks that we have not been to yet. It's been an amazing career at Alaska Marine Lines. Thank you for the opportunity to meet and work with so many great people. I feel blessed to have been a small part of it."
Bill Merk – Alaska Marine Trucking, 28 years
Bill (photo to the right) has been a 'jack of all trades' serving as a warehouseman, driver, customer service representative, warehouse lead, barge and yard freight operator, and, most recently, Human Resources Coordinator and HSSE Manager for the Juneau office during a career at Arrowhead Transfer from 1991 to 1997 and Alaska Marine Trucking from 1997 to 2019.
"The biggest changes I have seen in almost three decades is the ongoing development of freight managing processes and the increase in opportunities for employees to grow within the Lynden family of companies," Bill says. "I am most proud of the success of Alaska Marine Trucking's continuing safety improvements."
Bill's retirement plans include spending time with family in Portland, OR and completing his second collection of poetry. He also plans to travel and rediscover the deserts and mountains of the American Southwest. "It has been a pleasure working for a company that takes such good care of its employees; I couldn't imagine working anywhere else," he says.
Paula Daggett - Alaska Marine Trucking, 28 years
Paula Daggett (photo to the right) retired from Alaska Marine Trucking in September after 28 years as a Customer Service Representative in Ketchikan. She is pictured with other members of the Lynden team at her retirement celebration. From left: Dan Kelly, Paula, Adam Anderson, Paul Haavig, Alaska Marine Lines President Kevin Anderson and Executive Vice President Alex McKallor.
Senior Aircraft Records Specialist Pat Logan and Director of Quality Control Jeff Pull also retired from Lynden Air Cargo in December with 18 and 17 years of service respectively.
Investment in cutting-edge equipment and the skill of its driving teams has earned Brown Line a third consecutive SmartWay High Performer Award from the Environmental Protection Agency. For the past three years, Brown Line has been included in the minority – only 2 percent – of SmartWay carriers to receive this honor for all scoring metrics.
"Our team is very proud to receive this award for the third consecutive year," says Brown Line President Bill Johansen. "We continue to work hard to ensure we reduce carbon emissions by reducing idle time, sudden starts and stops and by using a new system called SmartDrive. This system allows our team to work together to improve driver safety and driving habits while reducing carbon emissions."
This year, Brown Line added 14 new fuel-efficient trucks to its fleet. Now 90 percent of its equipment is under five years old. New trailers arrived last month with electrical plug-ins allowing the refrigeration unit to turn off its generator to save on fuel and emissions. They will be tested with a new aerodynamic system in place of trailer tails that is designed to reduce the low pressure drag behind the trailer. The new system is expected to increase fuel economy and durability while reducing weight.
Brown Line also upgraded its refrigeration units with StarTrak, a system capable of sending alerts to dispatchers, drivers or shop personnel if any refrigeration unit is not maintaining the temperature set point. The temperature can also be adjusted remotely while a unit is enroute.
In the past five years, Brown Line has improved its fuel economy by nearly 40 percent and, in the past seven years, it has reduced its nitrous oxide and particulate matter emissions per ton mile by 44 percent and 62 percent respectively.
Brown Line was also voted Best Trucking and Logistics Company in the annual "Skagit's Best" contest. More than 41,000 people voted online to honor Skagit County's best businesses.
Brown Line drivers made good on a bet made between Washington Gov. Jay Inslee and Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds before the Alamo Bowl football game in San Antonio, TX. "Both Iowa and Washington state are used to being No. 1 in agriculture – apples for Washington and corn, eggs and hogs for Iowa," Gov. Reynolds said before the contest. The Iowa State University Cyclone football team was beaten by the Washington State University Cougars, 28-26 and Gov. Reynolds lost the bet.
Gov. Reynolds pledged to send the Iowa delicacies once the Cougars won the game. Iowa's Vande Rose Farms and Lynch Family Foundation donated bacon and other pork products to Olympia's Thurston County Food Bank. Brown Line, which specializes in transporting perishable commodities, delivered the items. Had the Cougars lost, Gov. Inslee wagered a feast of Ivar's famous clam chowder to Iowa's Northeast Iowa Food Bank.
Brown Line's fleet, part of the Lynden family of companies, is among the most efficient fleets in the nation and the company has once again earned the SmartWay High Performer Award from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
According to the SmartWay Transport Partnership, just over two percent of all SmartWay carriers operate fleets so clean and efficient that they make the SmartWay High Performer list for all metrics. Whether its carbon, particulate matter or nitrogen oxide, high-performing SmartWay carriers drive cleaner, emit fewer of these pollutants – and burn less fuel – for every mile they travel and for every ton of freight they move, as compared to their SmartWay peers.
"Our team is proud to receive this award two years in a row," says Brown Line President Bill Johansen. "We continue to work with our drivers on improving driving habits to minimize idle time, sudden starts and stops and to improve mileage. This recognition is shared with the entire Brown Line team."
Since 2007, Brown Line has invested in new aerodynamic tractors and trailers, wide-base super single tires and high efficiency engines, dramatically improving miles per gallon (MPG), reducing idle time and lowering carbon emissions.
In the last five years, Brown Line has improved its fuel economy by nearly 40 percent as reported to the U.S. EPA SmartWay Transport Partnership. Most of Brown Lines’ fleet is less than 5 years old. The new tractors are equipped with modern emissions control systems that significantly reduce air pollution. Since 2012, Brown Line’s fleet has reduced its nitrous oxide and particulate matter emissions per ton mile by 44 percent and 62 percent respectively.
Over 75 percent of Brown Line reefer units are plug-in and have contributed to a nearly 90 percent decrease in idle time since 2010. "As new trailers are purchased our goal is 100 percent," Bill says. "This year we will be testing a new aerodynamic system in place of trailer tails that is designed to reduce the low pressure drag behind the trailer. The new system is expected to increase fuel economy and durability while reducing weight."
Lynden Transport Account Manager Dennis Flajole (right) and Brown Line Sales Manager Steve McQueary spoke to students at the University of Washington in December as part of an annual transportation seminar hosted by the Washington Agriculture and Forestry Education Foundation. It was Dennis' third year as a speaker at the seminar which Lynden customer Darigold sponsors each year. "The presentation was an excellent overview of the diversity of your organization and how important transportation is to both state and regional economies," writes Deborah Moore, Program Director for the foundation. "After the presentation the students had questions about issues we're facing in the industry," Dennis says, "but they were more impressed with the services we provide and the amazing places we provide them. Every year I have students express interest in working for Lynden. This year two people asked me for contact information and said they wanted to work for us in Alaska."
Brown Line, LLC, an industry leader in temperature-controlled truck transport, earned a SmartWay Transport Partner 'High Performer' Status ranking from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) this month. Among the hundreds of fleets partnering with the EPA through SmartWay, Brown Line is among the select few that have earned SmartWay High Performer status for all performance metrics.
According to the SmartWay Transport Partnership, just over 2 percent of all SmartWay carriers operate fleets so clean and efficient that they make the High Performer list. "These companies are a step ahead in meeting the challenges of sustainable goods movement and have achieved significant shipping and freight efficiencies that merit special attention," says Gina McCarthy, EPA Administrator. "Compared to their SmartWay peers, High Performer carriers drive cleaner, emit fewer pollutants and burn less fuel for every mile they travel and for every ton of freight they move."
Over the past seven years, Brown Line has decreased its idle hours by 87 percent, its Nitrogen Oxide (NOx) emissions by 43 percent, its Particulate Matter emissions (PM) by 52 percent and its Carbon Dioxide (CO2) emissions per ton mile by 27 percent. The company has also improved its mile per gallon (MPG) by 44 percent. "The Brown Line team is extremely proud of this award and this recognition. To be in the top 2 percent of all trucking companies is affirmation that our efforts to improve freight efficiency are paying off," says Brown Line President Bill Johansen. "We will continue to adopt programs and practices that improve productivity and reduce our carbon footprint on the road and in our operations."
Brown Line uses highly efficient engines, lightweight equipment with enhanced aerodynamics, automatic tire inflation systems and onboard computers to manage highway speed, progressive shifting, best routing options and idle times. Other efficiency measures include:
- Cab design, with roof fairing, side skirts, integrated sleeper, and aerodynamic mirrors and bumper, reduces drag. Ultra-lightweight 53' trailers use side skirts and trailer tails.
- Fleet includes 53-foot trailers with California Air Resources Board (CARB) compliant reefer units.
- Team drivers and new high-efficiency plug-in electric refrigerated trailers minimize the need to idle the truck's engine. All reefers are electric.
- Efficient engines – DT-12 Transmission Program, Carb Emission Certification-Clean Idle.
- Gearing – DT-12, heavy duty 12-speed overdrive automated manual transmission increases miles per gallon.
- All trucks and trailers use wide-base, low-rolling resistant single tires and have an automatic system to keep tires properly inflated for optimum fuel economy and to reduce tire wear.
- PeopleNet tool is used to measure engine/driver performance in decreasing idle time and increasing miles per gallon with an average of 7.6 MPG for the entire fleet and an overall reduction in fuel use.
- Event Recorders are installed in all tractors to ensure improved safety and reduce cost.
Brown Line became a SmartWay Transportation Partner in 2010. Sister company Lynden Transport became the first Alaska trucking company to join SmartWay in 2008, followed by LTI, Inc./Milky Way – a three-time winner of SmartWay's Excellence Award – and Alaska West Express in 2012.
The EPA launched SmartWay in 2004 to help businesses improve the sustainability of their freight supply chains. Today, the partnership consists of 3,000 companies representing a cross section of the freight supply chain.
Brown Line is one of the Lynden family of companies whose combined capabilities include: shipping to Alaska, truckload and less-than-truckload transportation, barge service to Hawaii and Alaska, charter barges, worldwide air and ocean forwarding, third-party logistics, trade show shipping, intermodal bulk chemical hauls, scheduled and chartered Hercules L-382 cargo aircraft and multi-modal logistics. Lynden companies are repeat winners in the annual Quest for Quality customer service awards presented by Logistics Management magazine.