LTI, Inc. drivers in Caldwell and Jerome, ID answered the call this spring when the supermarket chain WinCo Foods was hit with an unprecedented demand for groceries due to the shelter-in-place orders. WinCo's daily freight volumes grew from 2.4 to 7 million pounds of grocery products. "We agreed to help and quickly sent out trucks and drivers to the Boise, ID distribution center," says LTI, Inc. Operations Manager Gordy Sant. "Within the same day Caldwell drivers were hauling 400,000 pounds of groceries to several WinCo locations." In all, LTI, Inc. drivers hauled 3.4 million pounds of freight to various Idaho communities during the rush period. Jerome drivers also hauled loads to Salt Lake City, Western Oregon or wherever products were needed. "Everyone at LTI, Inc. pulled together to cover shifts for these drivers so we could assist in this emergency situation," Gordy says. "We continue to haul groceries for WinCo as needed. This is a great example of how Lynden and its people can quickly diversify and an opportunity to show our strength in an area outside of the milk industry."
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LTI, Inc. drivers delivered 13 containers from Seattle to Ferndale, WA last month to assist the nonprofit Impossible Roads Foundation with a special Veterans Day project. The containers are retrofitted as homes for disabled veterans and will be distributed in the Whatcom County area.
"You guys truly are lifesavers," writes John Hope of the Impossible Roads Foundation. "We do not know how we could build and provide these tiny homes to veterans without the kindness and generosity of you delivering them to us."
Matson donated the 40-foot high-cube containers and LTI, Inc. contributed transportation to support the project. The containers are built specifically for the veterans' needs with ADA access. "We dubbed every tiny home we create 'The Impossible Tiny Home' because it is a small miracle that all of the materials, insight, design, labor, and personnel came together to build them," John says.
LTI, Inc. earned its fourth SmartWay Excellence Award from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) this fall. The award recognizes LTI, Inc. as one of the most efficient and lowest emitting tanker fleets in North America – a position that the company has worked hard to maintain over the last several years. LTI, Inc. and its Milky Way division consistently score in the top 1 percent of tanker carriers in the nation for low carbon monoxide, nitrous oxide and particulate matter emissions per ton mile.
LTI, Inc. and Milky Way have established a track record as environmental leaders and continuous improvement is a hallmark of the company. “We are focused on investing in modern, ultra-lightweight, and aerodynamic equipment and working with drivers to improve fuel economy,” explains LTI, Inc. President Jason Jansen. “Our drivers are truly the driving force behind the statistics. Our fuel economy achievements are a testament to the great people we have and to their dedication to operating efficiently while serving our customers.”
A driver incentive program rewards safe and efficient driver behaviors by offering an increase in hourly pay based on a weekly score of metrics that drives improved fuel economy such as reduced idle time, lower speeds and engine RPM’s and progressive shifting. Caldwell Driver Cody Brimley, Sunnyside Driver David Boothman and Vancouver Driver Harold Lagrange have all consistently scored 100 percent on the incentive program. In addition to skilled drivers, LTI, Inc. is using new generation “right-sized” engines that consume less fuel than higher horse power engines to achieve the best fuel economy, lowest emissions and best-in-class payloads. LTI, Inc. also uses “Super Single Low Rolling Resistant Tires” to reduce weight and improve fuel economy as well as aerodynamically designed cabs and lightweight trailer designs.
In the last five years LTI, Inc. and Milky Way have steadily improved fuel economy to rank as one of the most fuel efficient tanker fleets in the industry. “This is all the more impressive because the companies operate in states with 105,500 gross vehicle weight limits. This means we are achieving the award-winning high fuel economy while hauling 25,000 pounds more freight per trip than a typical tanker fleet,” explains Kevin DeKoster, LTI, Inc.’s Equipment Control Manager. “When you take into account the additional tons carried per mile, LTI, Inc. and Milky Way fleets are proven to be much more efficient than a typical tanker fleet.”
LTI, Inc. and Milky Way became SmartWay Partners in 2010. Each spring the companies voluntarily submit information on operations to the EPA. The Lynden companies consistently score among the most efficient fleets in the nation despite operating in extreme weather with steep terrain and some of the heaviest payloads.
In August, LTI, Inc. continued its sponsorship of the Mt. View Belgians draft horses and shows at the Northwest Washington Fair in Lynden, WA. The horses are owned by Lynden Driver Dan Weidkamp and his wife Heather. The Weidkamps also participated in the Western Rodeo Parade as part of the Washington State Fair in Puyallup, WA this month. Pictured to the left, Dan is at the reins with fair board members in the back of the LTI, Inc. wagon.
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.
LTI, Inc.'s Sunnyside Wash Bay Crew received a prestigious certification from the Juice Products Association (JPA) for the cleanliness of the tankers Lynden uses for carrying food-grade products. The LTI, Inc. Sunnyside location is now one of only five wash facilities in Washington state to be certified by the JPA and one of only 39 in the U.S. The JPA is a national trade association with manufacturers representing more than 80 percent of U.S. juice producers. The Lynden team put in many hours of hard work to earn the designation.
"We face intense regulatory scrutiny in the way we clean and sterilize our special commodities tanks," says Jeff Harris, Sunnyside Operations Supervisor. "The JPA certification is the gold star of tanker cleanliness. Many companies will only allow their product to be hauled in tankers that have been washed at a JPA-certified facility. We can now proudly say that we are one of those facilities."
From January through November last year, the LTI, Inc. wash bay crew cleaned and sanitized 8,317 tanks in its wash bay plus 1,210 milk tankers. LTI, Inc. is required to carry paperwork for the last three loads each tanker has hauled which dictates the type of wash it receives: a rinse, a detergent rinse or a kosher wash that calls for temperatures up to 203 degrees for sterilization.
Each product a tanker hauls requires a specific type of wash. There is a lot to know, Jeff explains, and with trucks on the road around the clock, washing takes place at all hours. Harvest time is especially hectic for the team when almost all of the company's tankers are in use.
Jeff, along with HSSE Director Anthony Knapp and the wash bay crew, spent four months working on the certification process and producing an 18-chapter manual. The Sunnyside wash bay also had to be prepared for the audit which took many weeks of coordination and physical labor.
Jeff and Anthony consider the wash bay crew unsung heroes for the hard work they do every day. "I couldn't be prouder of Jeff and this team," Anthony says. "They are a multi-talented group of individuals with an outstanding work ethic and keep our equipment spotlessly clean to protect our customers and the public."
Tags: LTI Inc.
LTI, Inc. Director of HSSE & Compliance Anthony Knapp was in Albany, OR at the annual Veterans Day parade Nov. 11 and rode with Driver Trainer/Backup Supervisor Andrew Ruzanski in the Milky Way tanker on the parade route. "It was an honor to represent LTI, Inc. in the parade, and the Lynden Tank team should be proud of the tanks they build. I know I was," Anthony says. The Albany parade is rumored to be the largest veteran's parade west of the Mississippi. That's Andrew's daughter Maddyx proudly watching her dad Andrew behind the wheel. Anthony is a 20-year veteran of the U.S. Coast Guard and Air National Guard.
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 reducing 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."
The annual Earth Day celebration is a good time to recognize Lynden employees who continue to do more with less, decreasing their energy use while improving safety and productivity. Since 2008, nearly 50 energy efficiency upgrades at Lynden facilities have led to the reduction of 2,350 megawatt hours of electricity and nearly 7 million British Thermal Units (BTUs) of heating fuel and natural gas per year.
According to Anna Deal of Lynden’s Green Initiative, that’s the equivalent of the average energy used in 167 homes or 335 passenger vehicles in one year! "Some of the most impressive reductions at Lynden have come from steady and consistent efforts and continuous improvement," she says.
For example, Lynden Transport’s Anchorage Service Center has reduced its heating fuel use by 20 percent over the last eight years by repairing insulation, sealing air gaps in the dock doors and dock plates with rubber, and installing new dock shelters. Most recently, a new direct digital controlled thermostat is reducing natural gas use even further. The Anchorage team invested in a series of lighting upgrades that has reduced electricity use by 20 percent, despite adding eight electric forklifts.
"One of the unexpected benefits of using electric lifts is the CO2 fan no longer kicks on in the cross-dock," says Richard Hennagin, Lynden Transport Safety Manager. "In a way, the lifts run for free because the fans are no longer pushing warm air outside or using electricity to run."
Similarly, the LTI, Inc. Service Center in Lynden, WA has reduced its overall electricity use by 37 percent since 2008. Employees have upgraded old lighting and HVAC systems, installed LED lights in the remodel, and most recently, yard lights were replaced with LEDs.
"One of the most exciting changes in the last few years is the number of Lynden facilities moving to LED lights," Anna says. "These lights give better quality light that mimics natural daylight while using a third of the energy. They last longer, so don’t need to be replaced as often. They are dimmable and turn on instantly, so they work well with smart sensor technology and there’s no mercury to dispose of when they do burn out."
More improvements throughout the companies:
ALASKA WEST EXPRESS
Alaska West Express in Fairbanks has some of the highest energy costs of any Lynden facility due to a lack of energy options, cold temperatures and the size of the 30-acre facility. Over the last few years the team replaced high wattage lights in the maintenance and tank-cleaning facilities as well as 76 yard lights with energy efficient LED lights. They reduced their electricity usage by 14 percent with a 2.5 year payback to recoup costs. "The best part is, the guys in the shop don’t have to wear their headlamps around anymore," says Gage Schutte, Alaska West Express Service Center Manager.
ALASKA MARINE LINES
Alaska Marine Lines began testing LED lights in the Seattle yard in 2015. "With a payback of less than three years and a 20-year lifespan, it seemed like a no-brainer," says Mark Gaska (now with Alaska West Express in Tacoma). Since then, M&R interior and exterior lights and salt tent lights have all been replaced with LEDs and smart sensors that adjust lighting output based on daylight levels and movement. Most recently, Alaska Marine Lines in Seattle became the first port facility in the world to use stadium style LED lights to light the yard.
"The truck entry lane in Yard 5 needed additional light for safety and security. Rather than disrupting operations and trenching power to install a new pole, we decided to use high mast LED lights. The difference is literally night and day. The safety crew and especially the night crew are very happy," says Tom Crescenzi, Alaska Marine Lines Service Center Manager.
LYNDEN TRANSPORT—Lower 48
Lynden Transport in Fife recently replaced lighting in the cross dock and yard (see photo on page 1). "The biggest benefit is safety," says Keith Johnson, Safety Supervisor. "After we moved to electric lifts, you couldn’t hear the lift approach over the buzzing sound of the old lights. The LED lights are quiet and the crew is able to read paperwork without going to the forklift for light." Lynden Transport Service Centers in Soldotna and Fairbanks also recently replaced their yard lights with LEDs.
"Even with all of the reductions at Lynden facilities to date, there is still a huge opportunity to reduce energy use further," Anna says.
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."