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Lynden HazMat experts conduct training in the most remote location yet

Posted on Wed, Mar 18, 2020

Lynden Training Center's Don WerhonigLynden Training Center's Tyler Bones and Don Werhonig traveled to Sainshand, Mongolia last year to teach HazMat Operations Training to 67 students representing National and Local Emergency Management Agencies (NEMA and LEMA), the Mongolian Railroad and military personnel. The training and exercises were coordinated by the U.S. Army Pacific as a way to coordinate interagency response, humanitarian assistance and improve the Mongolian first responder's ability to conduct response activities. Both Don and Tyler volunteered for the trip supported by Lynden.

"We were asked to be involved in this exercise and exchange because of our experience with transportation, hazardous materials response and training. The State of Alaska's sister country is Mongolia, which is why they reached out to Alaska participants," Tyler explains. The Mongolian Railroad connects Russia and China and hazardous freight is hauled through Mongolia daily. The local fire departments have very limited training on handling a hazardous materials incident, so Tyler and Don prepared them for a potential disaster involving a railroad incident that releases hazardous materials into a community.

The exercise and training was not only attended by U.S. and Mongolian personnel, there were also representatives from Japan, Australia, Kazakhstan and 20 other countries.

"For me, Mongolia drew several parallels to the way we live our lives here in Alaska. The people work hard, have a passion for emergency response, and take their jobs very seriously. I made long term friends while working there."

"They are protecting their communities with minimal equipment, old apparatus and huge hearts," Tyler says. "This training has reminded us that professional emergency responders exist throughout the world." Lynden Training Center is available to provide remote training worldwide, but this was the most remote location ever visited by the trainers.

Tags: Alaska West Express, Lynden Training Center, Hazmat, International

Everyday Hero profile: Brett Roberts

Posted on Thu, Feb 20, 2020

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 Brett Roberts, Lead Mechanic at Alaska West Express in Fairbanks, Alaska.

Everyday Hero Brett RobertsName: Brett Roberts

Company: Alaska West Express

Title: Lead Mechanic

On the job since: 1989

Superpower: Mechanical Diagnostics

Hometown: Sioux Falls, SD

Favorite Movie: Pixar film Cars

Bucket List Destination: New Zealand

For Fun: Fishing, hunting and restoring a 1971 28-foot Uniflight Salty Dog vessel

How did you start your career at Lynden?
One of the drivers from the company I was working for heard about the job at Alaska West Express. I was 24 years old, single and ready for an adventure. I had an aunt and uncle that lived about 40 miles from Fairbanks, so I drove up in my 1977 Dodge pickup and stayed with them. I had always seen pictures of Alaska and said I was going to live there.

I interviewed with Leon Bender on a Friday and started work on Dec. 1, 1989 as a grease monkey servicing trucks. Even though I had two years of diesel mechanic training, I started where they needed me. Just because you know it doesn’t mean you get to do it. My dad was a mechanic and I worked at truck shops since I was 16. I may not be able to remember names, but I can take an engine apart and remember where everything goes!

What is a typical day like for you?
I get to work about 4:30 a.m. I have an 18 mile commute to the shop. No one lives in Fairbanks. It’s a rush minute instead of a rush hour. The vicinity is 100,000 people, but you are talking about an 80-mile circle. I have 2 ½ acres of land and that’s not big.

Lately we have been extremely busy so I have had a six-day work week. We service from 15 to 20 trucks and trailers each day in 11 bays in our shop. They leave in the morning by 7 or 8 a.m., that’s the driver’s goal. It takes them 15 hours to drive up the haul road depending on their load. They take 10 hours off, then drive back 12 hours. Other trucks are headed to the Pogo gold mines or hauling military freight or going to Anchorage.

Our mechanics do a full inspection on each 1,100-mile trip the trucks make up the haul road. We check for broken springs, bad U-joints, broken lights and check the brakes. We do a chassis lube with the power greaser and check the driver’s report for anything electrical or any engine issue. Sometimes the trucks turn quick, other times they are in the shop for two or three days depending on the condition. Trucks take a beating on the haul road (Dalton Highway). It’s different than any other road in the Lower 48. Up here, the frozen, hard ice roads are better than the roads during the spring and summer. Once the thaw starts, you may be chaining up just to get through the mud! Our weather ranges from 100 degrees to 50 below.

I am restoring two heavy duty off-road trucks from Red Dog Mine that will soon be put to use at Prudhoe Bay. They have three axles and we start at the front bumper and work to the back, rebuild motors and wiring and eventually repaint these trucks.

I was already building trannies in high school. I don’t know if it’s a blessing or curse but I have mechanical ability. From bumper to bumper on a truck, I can figure it out or I will learn it. I sometimes do trainings here to teach new employees. I work with 20 other mechanics. With so much going on, it doesn’t matter if you’re fixing a transmission, rebuilding a rear end, swapping a rear end or electrical… I don’t do service very much. I help other guys after they find a problem.

What has been most challenging in your career?
Electronic engines. I’m not a computer guy, but I’ve had to become a computer guy to work on the new engines. The funny thing is my boy is a computer programmer. He writes programs for computers. I don’t even like carrying a cell phone. Alaska West Express sent me to Freightliner electronic computer training in 1994. I muddle through it, but it’s not how I used to do things.

What changes have you seen over the years, either in business, customers or technology?
Electronic engines and brakes are now all ABS. When I started there was no ABS brake systems. Now we have electronic transmissions and all LED lighting. Equipment and parts have improved. From tires to wires, it’s all more reliable and lasts longer. They are making a better product. The trucks are way more dependable than they used to be.

What project(s) are you most proud of?
Getting trucks back on the haul road quickly and safely is probably the biggest thing, but I also went to Hawaii with Jeff McKenney last year to set up a Smit-tipper for a project. This piece of equipment is made up of about 4 trailer loads and was stored in Fairbanks. We had to get it down to Seattle, get it set up and test it before moving it to Hawaii for use with lime to help keep emissions down at a local power plant. I’ve been here so long I was one of only a few people who actually knew how to assemble it and use it. It took us a week on Oahu to get it set up with the auger and all the pieces. It’s 70 feet long when it’s all put together. I was also sent to Bethel, AK for a week to put together and test new Piston Bully snowcats and sleighs.

Can you tell us about your family and growing up years?
I come from a family of five kids. I have an older brother and three younger sisters. Mom is still living in the house where they brought me home from the hospital in South Dakota. After high school I went to technical school in Minnesota for two years and moved to Alaska shortly after. I have been married to my wife Talitha for 13 years and have a grown son Tyler. We also had a foster daughter for eight months in 2011.

What was your first job?
Besides pulling weeds on a farm, my first real job was putting up chain link fences at 13 years old.

What would surprise most people about you?
When I was in vocational school, I dropped a 3208 Caterpillar engine on my right thumb. It cut it right off. I had it sewed back on in Minneapolis, but it didn’t take and it had to come off again. I was 20. This was two weeks before graduation. It was a blow. I still don’t know why it happened to me, but when I went back to the doctor to have the thumb removed a second time, he asked me if I had a job yet. I thought I was going to be out of work. I started applying right away so the day I graduated from vo-tech school I had a job.

When something like that happens, you can’t let it ruin your life. It humbles you and you have to learn to cope. I am ambidextrous so that helped me adapt as a mechanic. I like to say it threw a monkey wrench in my plans, but I got through it.

How do you spend your time outside of work?
I have five snow machines, two four-wheelers, a river boat and a motor home. I like to get out and hunt and fish in the winter. There aren’t too many roads, so I can go 50 miles in one direction and find good areas for hunting moose and caribou with muzzle loaders. My days off are Friday and Saturday so I can leave Thursday night and go out to hunt and fish then leave Saturday when people are just arriving. I also like going down to Valdez and fishing the rivers for pike and salmon.

I have a portable ice shack. I did a lot of ice fishing in South Dakota with my dad. That was his way of unwinding. He caught big fish and could’ve claimed state records, but he never turned anything in because he wanted to keep his fishing areas a secret. He broke the catfish record three times. He couldn’t lie, so he just didn’t say anything.

I also enjoy woodworking and building kitchen cabinets out of mahogany or oak. I’ve built cabinets for my parent’s home and done some restorations. My wife is an event planner so she asks me to make wooden centerpieces and tables for her weddings sometimes.

Last year, I also went to Papua New Guinea to help build a house for a missionary from our church.

What do you like best about your job?
I still get satisfaction when a truck leaves the shop and you know that it is safe and ready for the road and driver. That feels good. I’m here to help the company and make the company better in the end.

Tags: Alaska West Express, Lynden Employees, Everyday Heroes

Lynden Logistics charters support military facility upgrade

Posted on Thu, Dec 05, 2019

Lynden Logistics wrapped up a project this fall assisting one of the largest U.S. government contractors as they upgrade naval base facilities worldwide. Starting in January, Lynden's Seattle and Miami teams started moving 11 oversized modules from Pennsylvania to Florida for barge transport to locations in the Caribbean.

"The huge loads required permits and night travel to minimize impact," says Senior Account Executive Eric Klunder. "They also required top secret escorts for barge travel and other special procedures due to military protocol." Eric relied on sister company Alaska West Express and Sales Manager Jim Earl to review the project specifications. Jim and his team are considered the experts in heavy haul and military assignments.

Lynden also arranged air charters to deliver a variety of construction materials to naval base sites. "We set up five charters from Miami using a Saab 340-A prop plane and four charters using 737s for heavier items," Eric says.

My Post - 2021-11-22T134308.410International Operations Agent Michael Redmond and District Manager Sulaisa Rejo (pictured to the right) received the freight, consolidated it onto pallets and transferred it to the Miami airport for transport. The shipments contained lumber, concrete, caulking, epoxies and other chemicals that required dangerous goods paperwork and 'safety data sheets' for air clearance. Some of the materials required repacking and screening. All dangerous goods declarations were filed for the airlines and the flights were ready for takeoff.

The last 737 charter included something a little extra from Lynden's Seattle team. "Over the many months we worked with these customers, we heard that they had few creature comforts at their remote work site," says Kristina Jordan, District Operations Manager in Seattle. "We thought it would be nice to send them a little treat, so we had Sulaisa buy several boxes of Dunkin' Donuts for them."

Tags: Alaska West Express, Lynden Logistics, United States, Government and Military, Charters, Hazmat, Oversized/Heavy Haul, International

A little to the left…

Posted on Mon, Sep 23, 2019

Alaska West Express transporting modulesThis oversized process module was on its way to an oilfield at Prudhoe Bay via Alaska West Express. The trip required crossing the Chatanika River Bridge on the Elliott Highway. "This is when our variety of equipment really pays off for our customers," explains John Binder, Alaska West Express Safety Specialist in Fairbanks. "The Scheuerle trailer allows us to raise and lower loads to clear just about any obstacle we might encounter." It was a smooth trip across the bridge and the mod arrived on time. Oversized loads like this require weeks and sometimes months of advance planning with the Alaska West Express team securing permits, insurance and additional personnel and pilot cars. "Dealing with unusual and heavy loads is our specialty," John says.

Tags: Alaska West Express, Alaska, Energy, Oversized/Heavy Haul, Ground, Specialized

Lynden Training Center first to conduct rescue course for Alaska certification

Posted on Thu, Aug 08, 2019

Kodiak Fire DepartmentThe Lynden Training Center recently conducted a six-day course in Kodiak for the Kodiak Fire Department. "We are extremely proud that the General Technical Rescuer class is the first of its kind to be taught in Alaska for State of Alaska certification," says Tyler Bones, Director of HSSE.

The Fairbanks-based Training Center has been working with the Alaska Fire Marshal's office for the past six months to become accredited to instruct the course. "It's rare that new courses are added to the state's accreditation list, so our training center being the first shows what a great working relationship we have with the state," Tyler explains. In 2015, the Center received accreditation from the State of Alaska Training and Education Bureau as the first third-party provider to offer State of Alaska hazardous materials training, a designation usually reserved for state agencies and fire departments.

The Kodiak Fire Department has received Lynden training for the past two years. Last year, after the department completed the Confined Space Rescue course, firefighters put their skills to the test when responding to a rescue on a fishing vessel.

Lynden Training Center"Tyler and Don have provided incredibly technical and thorough training for our department in both Confined Space Rescue and most recently, the first-ever State of Alaska General Technical Rescuer," says Kodiak Fire Chief Jim Mullican. "Their expertise and professionalism allowed my staff to practice in real-world situations, honing their skills in a positive learning environment. It is a pleasure to work with two top-notch instructors." Don and Jim are pictured to the right during the training.

For more than 20 years, the Lynden Training Center in Fairbanks, AK has provided training to individuals, businesses and government employees all over Alaska and the Lower 48. Experienced Lynden instructors educate, train and prepare people from all industries to work safely, prevent accidents and to respond to disasters like chemical spills, train derailments and other emergencies. Professional development courses with classroom instruction are followed by hands-on exercises and drills in simulated response situations.

General Technical Rescuer classCollectively, Lynden Training Center instructors have over 180 years of experience including transportation, military, oil and gas, industrial, fire and emergency response. Their 'real-world' knowledge includes serving as firefighters, on the front lines of the military and as members of first responder rescue teams all over the world. Lynden trainers offered 107 courses in 2018 and instructed 936 students.

"It is very rewarding to be a part of educating and preparing people for emergency response and to help fire departments like Kodiak serve their community," Tyler says.

Tags: Alaska West Express, Lynden Employees, Safety, Lynden Training Center, Alaska, Hazmat

Drivers compete in 20th ATA championships

Posted on Fri, Aug 02, 2019

Brian Ambrose with Jamie Faria Benson 2019Alaska 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.

Tags: Awards, Alaska West Express, Lynden Employees, Lynden Transport, Drivers

Alaska West Express named Alaska’s safest truck fleet for 2018

Posted on Tue, Apr 30, 2019

Award ceremonyAlaska West Express received the 2018 Alaska Safe Truck Fleet of the Year Award from the Alaska Trucking Association (ATA) at its annual meeting in April. Alaska West Express also received the award in 2016, 2014, and 2013. The carrier was recognized for its safety performance in 2018, including accident frequency rates, Compliance, Safety and Accountability (CSA) scores and OSHA recordable injuries. Pictured to the right are members of ConocoPhillips, Alaska West Express and the ATA at the meeting.

The ATA sponsors this prestigious safety award with ConocoPhillips to recognize and reward carriers who operate safely on the highway and in the workplace. CSA is a major safety measurement and reporting initiative of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA).

"This award demonstrates the dedication and hard work of our entire team of transportation professionals," says Alaska West Express President Eric Badger. "Our drivers, maintenance personnel, operators, dispatchers, supervisors, managers and administrators all share in this success. Their efforts to continually identify safety improvements in our extremely challenging conditions is the cornerstone of our program. The safety of our people, the environment and our equipment is our most important objective each day."

"Alaska West Express clearly demonstrates to themselves, their management and the general public that the trucking industry can and does operate safely. Safety is our number one priority. ATA is proud that Alaska West Express is a member" said Aves Thompson, Executive Director of the Alaska Trucking Association.

Alaska West Express was also the Grand Award recipient for the National Tank Truck Carrier (NTTC) Competitive Safety Contest in the 7–12.5 million mile class. The award is based on best in class for the number of accidents, personnel injuries and actions the carrier takes to better the cargo tank industry.

Alaska West Express provides truckload transport of liquid- and dry-bulk products throughout the U.S. and Canada and specializes in trucking to Alaska with terminals in Anchorage, Fairbanks and Tacoma. It also operates a training center and offers classes in hazardous materials transport, emergency response and workplace safety.

Tags: Awards, Alaska West Express, Safety, Alaska, Drivers, LTL, Truckload, Ground

Lynden companies earn another Green Star in Alaska

Posted on Fri, Apr 26, 2019

Green Star Award receptionLynden Transport, Alaska West Express, Lynden Logistics and Lynden Air Cargo, all part of the family of Lynden companies, received recertification as Green Star businesses at the Alaska Forum on the Environment event in February at the D’enaina Center in Anchorage.

Lynden’s Green Initiative Coordinator Anna Deal spoke to the Anchorage Rotary in February about the many environmental advancements made by Lynden companies. Anna’s presentation focused on how Lynden’s common sense approach to going green is good business and how small changes can add up to big savings for businesses and the environment. Her presentation was so well-received, she was asked to speak to the MatSu Valley Chapter of Rotary in Alaska.

Tags: Awards, Alaska West Express, Lynden Air Cargo, Green Lynden, Lynden Transport, Alaska, Lynden Logistics, Truckload

Alaska West Express celebrates 10 years of green

Posted on Thu, Dec 27, 2018

Alaska West Express tankerAlaska West Express truly walks the talk when it comes to handling and transporting hazardous materials over challenging terrain with the utmost respect for safety, pollution prevention and the environment. Over the last five years, Alaska West has transported an average of 14 million gallons of fuel annually with no accidents. This year alone, drivers have traveled nearly 5 million miles without a recordable accident. Since joining the EPA SmartWay Transport Partnership in 2012, Alaska West has increased fuel efficiency by 25 percent while increasing the average payload by 10 percent. This means moving freight with less fuel and an overall 26 percent reduction in CO2 emissions per ton mile.

"Over the last several years, we have continued to make Alaska West Express’s trailering equipment more efficient," explains Alaska West Express President Eric Badger. "Our 406 and 407 tanker fleet is predominantly 5-axle, leading to a dramatically increased payload while reducing fuel consumption and number of trips. We have also purchased eight DOT 407 chemical tanks to allow us to haul over 2,000 gallons more per load."

Earlier this year, Alaska West Express took delivery of 10 Wilson aluminum 53-foot 5-axle flatbed trailers providing a 72,000-pound payload. They also feature a tire inflation system with heat-sensing devices that will alert the driver to an elevated wheel-end temperature. Alaska West drivers helped test the system from prototype to production.

According to Director of Maintenance Tommy Douthit, auxiliary power units provide heat and power to the cab when the truck is turned off and have helped reduce idle time by over 40 percent. Tire pressure monitoring equipment and laser alignment of tires reduces tire wear and also contributes to fuel efficiency. Newer, more efficient engines, combined with the improved fuel economy and payload, have led to a 39 percent reduction in particulate matter emissions and an 83 percent reduction in nitrous oxide emissions. "This contributes to better air quality in places like Anchorage and Fairbanks where winter inversions can trap pollution," Tommy says.

The Fairbanks line haul fleet is equipped with an onboard oil filtration system that allows maintenance to stretch out oil changes from 750 hours to around 2,500 hours or more. "We are only performing full oil changes on an annual basis now," Tommy says. "This translates to about a 75 percent reduction in engine oil use. Nothing goes to waste, as used oil from the trucks is then used to heat the parts warehouse in Fairbanks." The company is also testing a disc brake pad free of copper and other metals to meet an upcoming EPA requirement to preserve sea life in the Pacific Ocean.

Efficiency is not limited to equipment. Over the last several years, Alaska West’s Fairbanks facility has converted nearly 90 percent of its lights to LEDs which have dramatically improved lighting quality and led to a savings of $50,000 per year in electricity costs. "This year, we also upgraded our primary heating system boilers to improve efficiency and added propane fired air exchangers to augment our floor heat. This gives us faster recovery time and quicker thaw cycles for our equipment to allow us to haul freight in snowy conditions," Tommy says.

Tags: Alaska West Express, Green Lynden, Ground

Big load flies down the road

Posted on Wed, Nov 14, 2018

Parts of a vintage 727 jetliner were strapped to an Alaska West Express trailer at the Future of Flight Museum in Everett and hauled to a hangar at Columbia Pacific Aviation in Moses Lake, WA. The noteworthy move was covered by Seattle's KING–5 TV and Alaska West Express Driver Tom Lardie was featured on that night's newscast. The museum closed after 13 years and all the planes were taken down from the ceiling and hauled to new homes at other museums or moved into storage. "Dispatcher Roger VanMeter set this move up and knocked it out of the park," says Tacoma Service Center Manager Neil Cranford. "His planning and communication with the customer and driver insured that this freight moved without any damage or issues. It should also be noted that our driver, Tom Lardie, handled the move with the utmost professionalism. Having experienced drivers like Tom makes hauling oversize freight such as this possible." The fuselage was part of the original team plane for the Vancouver Canucks hockey team. According to Tom, it drew quite a bit of attention rolling down Interstate 90 from Western to Eastern Washington.

Tags: Alaska West Express, United States, Oversized/Heavy Haul, Truckload, Ground