Alaska West Express Driver Brian Ambrose took first place in the Tanker Class at the Alaska Trucking Association's 20th Truck Driving Championships June 1 in Anchorage. Brian is pictured with Jamie Faria Benson of the truck driving championship committee. Brian has almost 40 years of commercial driving experience and has competed in the ATA truck driving championships every year since 2005. He has collected an assortment of trophies including three for state champion and best overall in 2015 as well as being named ATA's Driver of the Year in 2016. He will head to Pittsburg in August to compete in nationals. Alaska West Express Drivers Edward Tuia, Joseph George and James Elliott also competed in the June 1 Alaska championships, along with Lynden Transport Drivers Billy Mast, Doug Longerbone, Jack Sorensen, Jeff Clark and Stephen Hill.
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A Lynden customer appreciation event in Valdez brought old friends together. Lynden Chairman Jim Jansen (far right) is pictured with Marie Blood, wife of Slim Blood, Lynden's first Alaska employee. Slim opened Lynden's first Fairbanks terminal in 1958 and established Lynden's early reputation for customer service. The new location was a WWII Quonset hut and meant drivers didn't have to unload their own trucks or stay overnight. Marie, her son Russ, grandchildren and great-grandchildren all attended the event in Valdez. "Between us, we could name every Alcan driver in the pictures in the #27 museum," Jim says. "Marie hosted dinners for the drivers when they arrived in Fairbanks, making them feel at home. She now resides in Valdez."
The quick response of new Alaska Marine Trucking Driver Andrew Lawson saved company equipment and prevented the loss of three new cars belonging to a customer. Alaska Marine Trucking delivers vehicles to an auto dealership in Juneau twice weekly, year-round, with a specialized car-hauling trailer. Andrew was on the road to the dealership when he heard a loud ‘BOOM!’ He saw flames in his rear view mirror, pulled over and saw the trailer was on fire. The brakes of the trailer overheated and the brake drum blew in a fiery explosion. This, in turn, caught the inside trailer tire on fire, destroying it.
Andrew grabbed the fire extinguisher from his truck and quickly put out the flames. After the incident, he inspected all the gear and freight involved, and called his dispatcher. Fortunately Andrew and the cargo being transported were unharmed. Dispatcher Carolyn Smith contacted the dealership, and Andrew was able to unload the cars safely to complete delivery to the customer. "Thanks to his quick thinking and actions, Andrew saved the customer's shipment and Alaska Marine Lines what might have been a total loss of our equipment. I would like to recognize him for using his safety training, quick thinking and fast actions to save a disaster from happening," Carolyn says.
Each year, LTI, Inc. honors its Everyday Heroes with dinner events at various locations in Washington, Oregon and Idaho. Retirees are also included to celebrate employees past and present for their many years of dedicated service to Lynden.
Milky Way Driver Scott Polinder achieved a milestone of 40 years of safe driving in 2018, and Jeff Smith celebrated 30 years without an accident. Retirees from the past year Jeff Kok, Arnie DeKubber and Mark Coppinger were also recognized for their years of service.
A cross-town move from one REI store to another went off without a hitch thanks to Lynden Transport’s Anchorage team and experienced drivers.
All retail merchandise from the previous store location in Anchorage was transported to the new, bigger facility in Midtown Mall within a few days. "Some of the gear was palletized and some of it was loosely stacked. REI even left apparel on the clothing racks and rolled them right onto the trailers," explains Northwest Regional Sales Manager John Husby. "The only thing we didn’t move were the lighting fixtures."
In addition to the store-to-store freight, Lynden drivers loaded up trailers at REI’s distribution center in Sumner, WA, with additional merchandise to stock the 50,000-square-foot space. Sumner is the usual pickup location for both Fairbanks and Anchorage REI stores. Lynden Transport drivers drop the trailers for loading at the center, then take them the rest of the way north via ship. Trailers for Fairbanks go via rail and are then intercepted for truck delivery to the REI store. Kayaks and canoes sometimes ride the rail barge, according to John, and Alaska Marine Lines barges are often used for larger freight.
John attended the store’s soft opening in January. "Everything was in the store and everyone was all smiles. "Lynden’s support for our relocation was invaluable to us," says Sarah Chadd, REI Logistics Supply Chain Analyst.
Anchorage Lynden Transport Driver Doug Longerbone’s first-place finish at the Alaska Truck driving competition earned him a spot at the national competition this summer in Columbus, OH. Doug placed ninth overall in the 5-axle category. He is pictured above at the award dinner on Aug. 18.
Lynden Transport Driver Jack Sorensen was recently named the 2018 Alaska Truck Driver of the Year by the Alaska Trucking Association (ATA). Lynden drivers have been named Driver of the Year four out of the past five years. Lynden Transport Driver John Schank received the award twice – in 2014 and 2017 – and Alaska West Express Driver Brian Ambrose was recognized in 2016. Brian was named second place overall champion of this year's competition on May 19 as well as taking first place in the sleeper truck class.
Pictured above from left: Jim Jansen, Justus Uphus, Jack Sorensen, Brian Aszmus, Doug Longerbone and Brian Ambrose.
"We are extremely proud of the professionalism and commitment our drivers exhibit every day on the job, but also the knowledge and skills they bring to the annual ATA truck driving championships," says Lynden Transport President Paul Grimaldi. "These drivers are the best of the best. They must complete a written knowledge test, a pre-trip inspection and a skills course as part of their participation."
Jack has earned many first-place finishes in the annual driving competition in Anchorage and has maintained an accident-free record for 34 years. He has traveled to the national truck driving competition seven times over his long driving career. "Driving in Alaska can certainly be a challenge with moose on the road year-round, tourists on the road in the summer and extreme weather in the winter," he says.
Lynden Transport Driver Doug Longerbone took first place in the five-axle category, Greg Sims, seventh place in the five-axle; Brian Aszmus, fourth in the stepvan and Cody McFarlane took fourth place in the four-axle class. Alaska West Express Driver Joseph George placed fourth in the five-axle, James Elliott took third in the four-axle and Edward Tuia placed fourth in the flatbed class.
Lynden Transport looked like it was carrying a giant white goose recently as it transported a 22-foot by 8-foot helicopter fuselage and spare parts from Anchorage to Tacoma. The shrink-wrapped fuselage required a 53-foot stepdeck trailer and permits as well as a crane to lift it on and off the trailer. No straps were allowed over the cargo and Lynden's driver had to do some careful backing to position the trailer under the big load while it was hoisted at the pickup location. The final destination is Australia.
Tom Greinier has been hauling fish for Juneau's salmon hatchery, Douglas Island Pink And Chum (DIPAC), for over 20 years. In fact, DIPAC has followed Tom during his trucking career even before he started working for Alaska Marine Trucking. "He's the reason we haul fish for them at all," says fellow Driver Brian Weokoluk. "They specifically ask for him year after year."
Not only have Tom's skills behind the wheel led to a long-lasting customer relationship, his commitment to working around DIPAC's schedule has fed Juneau's waters with predictable salmon spawn while supporting the fishing community.
Alaska Marine Trucking Driver Jim Cartmill is a member of the DIPAC Board of Directors. "Trucking live fish from one point to another is crucial in the hatchery's success," he says. "They're raised at Macaulay until they're about 3 inches long, and then hauled off to an ocean pen where they mature and are released into open water. DIPAC is a huge support to both our local and intra-state communities."
According to Brian, the reason DIPAC trusts only a select few to truck live fish is all in the gear shifting during transport. The drive must be as smooth as possible for the least amount of disruption to the fish. If the gear changing rocks the holding tanks too much during the drive, it can cause air bubbles in the tankers that may stress or even kill the small fish fry.
Fortunately, that's not a worry with professionals like Tom in the driver's seat. This spring he took some time to talk another of Alaska Marine Trucking's experienced drivers through the process for their first run to the Thane Road site with a DIPAC employee.
Three Lynden drivers qualified for and participated in the National Truck Driving Championships Aug. 9-12 in Orlando, FL. More than 400 drivers competed in the event which is a gathering of the best-of-the-best truckers from California to Maine. Brian Ambrose of Alaska West Express took 15th place in the Sleeper Berth, Jack Sorensen of Lynden Transport placed 32nd in the Tank Truck category and Edward Tuia of Alaska West Express came in 41st in the five-axle.