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Lynden drivers compete in National Truck Driving Championships

Posted on Thu, Oct 26, 2017

Truck Driving Championships - National - FL.jpg

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.

Tags: Alaska West Express, Lynden employees, Lynden Transport, Drivers

New tractors for LTI, Inc. and Milky Way drivers

Posted on Tue, Oct 03, 2017

LTI, Inc./Milky Way drivers are rolling down the road in new tractors this fall, the result of a large-scale major equipment acquisition. According to Dave Seaman, Director of Equipment and Maintenance, LTI invested in new power units this year which replaced some of the high-mileage tractors. "The new equipment is allowing us to lower our operating cost by LTI new equipment - Gene Stahl.jpgreducing maintenance and improving fuel economy while maintaining payload," he explains. "The new units also provide a much better driving experience for our employees." LTI, Inc. has purchased 74 2018 Kenworth T680 tractors, the same tractor that Lynden Transport Driver John Schank drove across the country to deliver the Capitol Christmas Tree in 2015.

As of early September, 16 new tractors were in service with another 58 to be delivered this fall. The allocation of new equipment is based on demand, according to Dave. "We relocate power units between terminals in an effort to improve utilization and customer service. Since our power units are each assigned to a terminal and activity, we basically do a direct replacement," he says.

LTI, Inc. Equipment Maintenance Manager Jerry Crisp in Sunnyside and the team at Kenworth Northwest in Yakima work together on new equipment "UPFIT" which includes installation of the milk pump box, Peoplenet system, Lynden green vinyl wrap/door decal and equipment numbers, etc. Jerry and his maintenance team, along with Jeff Harris of Sunnyside operations, test run each tractor prior to delivery to LTI, Inc. Service Centers. "Our goal is delivering each tractor ready to work," Dave explains. "This is a major task for all of LTI, Inc., including administration, operations, HSSE, maintenance and specifically the Sunnyside maintenance/operations teams as they continue with day to day operations and the beginning of our harvest season. They get this done while maintaining excellent customer service." Utilization is considered along with a life cycle target of 800,000 miles, although some units run close to 1 million miles prior to replacement. "Today's engines and emissions systems are very expensive to repair and replace so at LTI, Inc., we really don't want to overhaul engines nor replace emissions systems during the life cycle unless absolutely necessary," Jerry explains.

The allocation of LTI/Milky Way's used tractors is also carefully considered. "Our first priority is making sure we have a One Lynden approach regarding the disposal of an asset," Dave says. "Recently we have supported Alaska Marine Lines, Alaska Marine Trucking and Lynden Transport by transferring used tractors to each operation. We also sell direct, through a broker or auctions and we sometimes consider dealer trade-in values."

Milky Way Drivers like Gene Staal of Lynden, WA and Anthony Platas-Tremont of Moses Lake, WA are enjoying the new equipment. "The truck is very comfortable, rides smooth and quiet and has great visibility," Gene says. "This is a quality truck to match Milky Way's quality standards," Anthony adds. "There has been a noticeable mileage increase on my normal route."

Tags: LTI Inc., Fuel efficiency, Milky Way, Drivers

Lynden drivers clean up at Alaska, Washington competitions

Posted on Wed, Sep 20, 2017

Truck Rodeo group shot 6-3-17.jpgCongratulations are in order for many Lynden drivers who competed in truck driving competitions in Alaska and Washington this spring. At the Alaska Trucking Association’s (ATA) annual truck rodeo in Anchorage, Alaska West Express Driver Brian Ambrose was named overall champion for the second year followed by Eddie Tuia in second place. Eddie also took first place for Alaska West Express in the 5-axle van category with Doug Longerbone of Lynden Transport taking second place.
Other first-place finishers included Jack Sorensen in the Tanker and Brian in the Sleeper Divisions. Al Guettinger and John Schank took first and second places respectively in the Old Geezer category. John was also named 2017 Alaska Driver of the Year for the second time. Other Lynden drivers competing were: Randy Estrada, Lynden Transport, third in the flatbed category; James Elliott, Alaska West Express, tenth in the 5-axle; Greg Sims, Lynden Transport, eleventh in the 5-axle; Tanner Heisler, Lynden Transport, fifth in the 4-axle; Ray Sorenson, Lynden Transport, fifth in the 3-axle and Clayton Bonty, Lynden Transport, sixth in the flatbed division. Dan Jenkins of Lynden Transport competed in the Washington competition, placing fourth in the flatbed class.

"We are always proud of the drivers who come out to represent the Lynden companies," says Richard Hennagin, Lynden Transport Safety Supervisor. "They are up against the best in the business, which makes their top place finishes even more impressive."

Tags: Awards, Alaska West Express, Alaska Truck Driving Championships, Lynden Transport, Drivers

Winter weather challenges Lynden drivers

Posted on Tue, Mar 21, 2017

Moses Lake snow drift 2-213617-edited.jpg

Milky Way Driver Mike Jalomo calls it the winter that never ends. Another driver said, "I’ve thrown on more jewelry (truck chains) in the last month than most people put on in a lifetime."

Winter is never an easy season for the transportation industry, but some years are more challenging than others. "It feels like Mother Nature hasn’t backed down this year," says Kevin Greiner, Central Milk Dispatcher in Lynden, WA. From freezing rain and mountain pass closures to high winds and towering snow drifts, it’s been a tough few months for Lynden employees.

"We have seen close to 24 inches of snow at one time in Whatcom county this year but when the Northeast wind out of Canada blows 50-60 mph for a week straight, 2 inches of snow can drift up to 8 feet really quickly. At that point the county essentially shuts down," Kevin explains. "The only way we are able to get around is to put our own snowplow to work to open roads up."

To prepare for winter each year, LTI, Inc. incorporates winter driving awareness into monthly safety meetings starting in September. Everyone takes chain-up refresher classes – from brand new drivers with no mountain pass experience to 40-year veteran drivers. Coming to work prepared is heavily promoted in anticipation of the first snowfall.

"Mother Nature never sends us an email saying that a storm is headed our way," Kevin says. “We try to watch forecasts as much as possible but sometimes you go to bed and everything is normal only to wake up to the wind howling and the snow blowing sideways. Our LTI, Inc. team is made of professionals who understand that rain or shine, commodities still need to get there."

Driver safety is always a concern. If conditions warrant, two drivers will be sent out in one truck so the primary driver has a spotter and an extra set of hands. According to Kevin, "Our line of work is more than just getting in the truck and driving down the road. Local farm pickup drivers could be in and out of the truck 20 times during a shift so we really stress the importance of slowing down. Making smart decisions instead of knee jerk reactions when things get tough is what sets us apart from our competition."

Lynden is known for having some of the best drivers in the industry. "They are seasoned, know the local areas, and know exactly what to watch for when they are out in the field. We always tell new hires that this is a 24/7 company and the cows don’t care that it’s Christmas. As a company, we do a really good job of focusing on our critical customers and areas."

Mike Jalomo was stranded on the west side of Washington when both mountain passes closed. He laid over in Mount Vernon and went to work helping out Whatcom County drivers on their routes until he could make it back over to home base in Moses Lake. "I don’t think the average person realizes how much it takes to get the milk over the pass," he says. "We don’t have the luxury of sitting out a storm."

"Mike and so many others are all stars who have gone above and beyond this winter," Kevin says. "The LTI, Inc. office in Lynden, WA lost power in January for about six hours and several administrative employees were still here working. At the beginning of January, there was a record snowfall in Caldwell, ID and Jason Jansen and Bob Griggs both suited up in insulated coveralls and rode around with Milky Way’s Caldwell drivers helping chain up and navigate roads until 2 a.m."

"Our drivers and the team supporting them did the extraordinary, working safely through tough conditions and long hours to serve our customers," says Lynden CEO Jon Burdick. "I’m proud of their dedication and what they accomplished."

Tags: LTI Inc., Winter conditions, Milky Way, Drivers

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