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.
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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."
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."
LTI, Inc. and its Milky Way division received a third consecutive SmartWay Excellence Award from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The EPA awards recognize the top one percent of SmartWay partners for superior environmental performance and leadership. LTI, Inc. earned a top score in the Tanker Fleet Category based on its exceptional fuel economy, payload, idle time and modern emissions equipment.
"We are extremely proud to receive a third Excellence Award from the EPA. Our entire team deserves credit for maintaining our high standards of productivity, efficiency and environmental stewardship," says LTI, Inc. President Jason Jansen. "We will continue our efforts to improve fuel economy and reduce emissions while serving our customers."
LTI, Inc. was one of 39 truck carriers to receive this distinction, representing the best environmental performers of SmartWay's nearly 3,000 Partners. The carrier awardees were honored at American Trucking Associations Annual Management Conference & Exhibition in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania today.
"EPA is pleased to honor these SmartWay Partners with a 2015 Excellence Award," said Chris Grundler, Director, EPA Office of Transportation and Air Quality. "SmartWay carriers work diligently to bring our families the goods we need each day, while contributing to a healthier, more sustainable future for our children."
LTI, Inc. specializes in the transport of liquid and dry bulk commodities, and its Milky Way division is a leading bulk milk hauler in the Pacific Northwest. The company uses the most efficient engines available, lightweight equipment with enhanced aerodynamics, automatic tire inflation systems and onboard computers to manage highway speed, progressive shifting, best routing options and idle times. Drivers are trained on these systems to better understand the impacts and effects while driving.
EPA's SmartWay Transport Partnership empowers businesses to move goods in the cleanest, most energy-efficient way possible, while protecting public health and reducing environmental impacts. Since 2004, SmartWay Partners have saved 144.3 million barrels of oil and $20.6 billion in fuel costs. SmartWay's clean air achievements (61.7 million metric tons of carbon dioxide, 1,070,000 tons of nitrogen oxides, and 43,000 tons of particulate matter emissions avoided) help to protect the well-being of citizens.
LTI, Inc./Milky Way became a SmartWay Transportation Partner in 2010. Sister company Lynden Transport became the first Alaska trucking company to join SmartWay in 2008, and Lynden companies Brown Line, LLC and Alaska West Express are also members.
The Lynden family of companies announced earlier this month two executive appointments: Jason Jansen was named president of LTI, Inc. and its Milky Way division based in Lynden, Washington, and Bill Johansen is the new president of Brown Line, LLC based in Mount Vernon, Washington. LTI, Inc. is one of the Lynden family of companies and specializes in the transport of liquid and dry bulk commodities. Its Milky Way division is a leading bulk milk hauler in the Pacific Northwest. Brown Line is a trucking company providing temperature-controlled transportation to customers throughout the U.S. and Western Canada.
Jansen was previously president of Brown Line and Johansen was regional sales manager for Lynden Transport in the Vancouver/Portland area.
"LTI, Inc. will be well served by Jason's proven leadership ability, focus on safety and efficiency, and passion for our business and its people," says Brad Williamson, LTI, Inc. board member and former president.
Jansen began his Lynden career as an equipment operator with Knik Construction Co. and worked in various departments at LTI, Inc., before becoming regional manager of the Lynden, Wash. Service Center and five satellite locations. Jansen has served as a member of the Lynden Airport Board, the Lynden Chamber of Commerce Board and volunteered for the Lynden Boys & Girls Club.
"Bill has over 30 years of experience in the transportation industry and an impressive record of success including leadership roles in air, LTL trucking operations and marketing," says Lynden Executive Vice President Alex McKallor. "His enthusiasm and positive approach will be a great addition to an already strong team at Brown Line."
Johansen joined Lynden Transport in 2007 and was named salesman of the year in 2008. Prior to his Lynden career, he served as operations manager at Joel Olson Trucking and spent over 20 years in various leadership positions at Alaska Airlines. Johansen also served as a sergeant in the U.S. Air Force. He has coached youth sports in his community and received many awards during his extensive career.
Over the past six months, Guy Jansen has worked with Lynden Tank Company, Steven Blankenforth, Blue Star Welding, Maple Leaf Auto and the Lynden truck shop to restore an iconic Milky Way tractor and a set of double 2,800-gallon farm pickup milk tankers dating from the 1950's. The project was completed in time to join more than 700 antique trucks at the American Truck Historical Society Convention in Yakima, WA this spring.
"We plan to use #39 and its tankers #75B and #77B to support the agricultural communities in our service area by providing potable water and a hand-washing station at county fairs, FFA, 4-H, and similar events," said Milky Way President Brad Williamson. He encourages Lynden employees to think of otherways #39 can be used to support Lynden customers.
This 1956 single-ax Kenworth tractor and double single-axle tankers picked up milk at the Whatcom County dairy farms during the period when the industry was transitioning away from truck tanks to semi-trailers. Each single tanker picked up milk locally and was brought back to Lynden where they were trained up as a set of doubles and pulled through the Darigold plant in Lynden, WA to be topped off. They were then hooked to #39 to deliver full loads to Seattle area processors. Hub DeJong drove for Milky Way from 1949 to 1989 and spent many hours in the cab of #39. According to Guy, Hub and his family got a chance to see the restored rig and it brought back many fond memories.
Lynden companies are customer-focused, but helping employees work smarter and safer is an ongoing goal as well. Last month LTI, Inc. Eastern Region Safety and Compliance Manager Allison Russell participated in hands-on research at the Milky Way Service Center in Sunnyside, WA with Han Kim from Labor and Industries (L&I). Han is an ergonomist representing L&I’s Safety & Health Assessment and Research Prevention (SHARP) program and the Trucking Injury Reduction Emphasis Study (TIRES) division. Allison, along with Operations Manager Darrell Scott, Driver Joey Fayard, Dispatcher and former driver Robert Tripp and Vice President of Operations Bob Griggs spent two days working together at a Sunnyside dairy and in the Sunnyside yard to explore ways to work safer while hauling liquid bulk products.
Darrell Scott, Jr. hooks up a milk hose at the Sunnyside Milky Way yard. His movements are mirrored on a computer program provided by Han Kim of Labor & Industries.
“We invited Han to Sunnyside to guide us in safety education and training,” Allison explains. “Han’s visit was to focus on best practices for tasks such as ascending and descending fixed ladders attached to milk trailers as well as pulling and carrying hoses.”
The team wound milk hoses, simulated different workplace scenarios and “did a ton of pulling and winding,” Allison says. “We discussed stresses on different body parts, low back stress, balance.” LTI, Inc. will take this information and work with Han to develop training videos and educational tips on proper posture and injury prevention. LTI, Inc. and Milky Way have regularly scheduled safety and training meetings but this is one more valuable tool to add to the mix. “We value our employees and want them to be at their best each day while serving our customers. This is one more way to improve customer service,” Allison says.
Lynden Transport has also worked with the TIRES group, most recently in Fife, WA. “We have been involved in several projects,” says Trevor Lindberg, Safety & Loss Prevention Manager. “We were featured in safety poster photo shoots and research projects including forklift safety, load binders and safe working practices. We appreciate any opportunity we are given to help increase a focus on working safely, and were happy to participate.”
Milky Way/LTI, Inc. began farm pickup operations for 32 Darigold farms in Montana on Jan. 1. The farms and newly hired drivers are located around Bozeman and Missoula. Some of the milk will be delivered to Darigold in Bozeman and some will be delivered a longer distance to Spokane, Jerome and Billings. “I would like to welcome Gear Lemon and Brandon Barnez back to the Lynden family of companies. These two men worked for Dairy Express in Montana in the 1990s,” says Brad Williamson, LTI, Inc. President.
Going on its 23rd year, Sunnyside's Annual Lighted Farm Implement Parade is one of the top 10 lighted Christmas parades in the U.S. LTI, Inc.’s Sunnyside crew entered a lighted truck for the first time in 10 years and took second place. Office Manager Barb Kluever offered a small prize for the design, and Mechanic Juan Romero and Wash Bay Attendant Luis Solis came up with a plan and prepared the truck for the parade. Barb and her daughter Megan helped string 10,000 lights with the help of other volunteers. “We had the truck/float in four lighted parades throughout the valley,” Barb says. “The community was very excited to see it and we received many compliments. “ Juan purchased a Santa suit and drove the truck in the parade accompanied by Luis who was dressed as an elf. “They were great with the kids and the community loved them,” Barb says. “I was very proud to be part of it.”
Late last year, Milky Way began using a new onboard computer program with customer Darigold that has revolutionized the way information is shared between dairy farms and milk processing plants. “From a customer service perspective, this is a game-changer,” says LTI, Inc. President Brad Willliamson. “This new process is improving data accuracy and visibility and significantly reduces the amount of time it takes for milk producers (farmers) to view their volume and quality information online after we pick up the milk.”
The new farm pickup system captures loadsheet data (producer, weight, milk temperature and destination) in the truck’s onboard computer and sends it back to Darigold’s IT system within hours. In the past, this process could take as long as 10 days and records were kept by hand in logbooks. Loadsheet errors have been reduced by automated validation, and the process for the field staff and lab to receive loadsheet comments has been streamlined by distribution via email. “A long-standing goal of Darigold has been to deliver accurate quality and component data to our producer base on a timely basis. Receiving this information is a value-add to our producers; they can react with changes on the farm that result in maximizing quality milk deliveries,” explains Darigold Director Kim Kennedy.
“This initiative has been unique,” he adds. “Its success relied on a true strategic partnership between LTI, Inc. and Darigold with mutual sharing of risks and benefits. To date, we have seen substantial improvement in the accuracy and timeliness of information flow. Darigold management is very proud of this accomplishment.”
According to Brad, Milky Way drivers are key to the program’s success. “It was a real change for them, and we are proud of the way they responded. Our continued success with this project depends on the quality data they enter with each pickup.” The new system was developed and tested by Lynden Inc.’s IT Department and Milky Way. It will soon be available to other milk and bulk commodities customers.
Photo: Whatcom County Milky Way Driver Dick Stacey.