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Everyday Hero Profile: Don Werhonig

Posted on Wed, Apr 20, 2022

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.

Introducing Don Werhonig, Instructor/HSSE Manager at Alaska West Express/Lynden Training Center in Fairbanks, Alaska.

EDH post (1)-2
Name: Don Werhonig

Company: Alaska West Express/Lynden Training Center

Title: Instructor/HSSE Manager

On the Job Since: 2013

Superpower: Ability to make complex information understandable to all

Hometown: Harlowton, MT

Favorite Movie: Megamind

Bucket List Destination: Thailand

For Fun: Lots of outdoor stuff and Taekwondo with my kids

How and when did you start working for Alaska West Express/Lynden Training Center? Have you worked for or done projects with other Lynden companies?
I went to work for Alaska West Express in 2013. Before that, I did some emergency response work and training instruction for the company as a contractor. As for how, I had worked with employees of Alaska West starting in 2001, which turned into lifelong friendships. I had an understanding of Lynden and the way they treat their employees and their operating philosophy, so I jumped at the chance to come to work for AWE.

What is a typical day like for you?
My days vary. If I am teaching a class, it is pretty much in the classroom or out on the training ground for the day. If I am not training, I am answering questions for AWE, developing training, or working on AWE programs. Basically, at my workstation unless I can escape and get outside.

What has been most challenging in your career?
Maintaining the status of an expert of subject matter in everything we do. I have to know Department of Transportation (DOT) compliance, Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), plus all the emergency response stuff like firefighting, rescue, medical, and hazmat response. It is hard sometimes to keep up with changing regulations and standards.

What are you most proud of in your career?
This is an easy question to answer. I am proud of all the people I have offered professional development to. I understand that professionally developing our work force and clients is a great responsibility and one I don’t take lightly. But knowing I can develop people to make better decisions or respond to bad situations is incredibly satisfying. The goal would be to develop someone’s skills and knowledge until they are better than I am.

Can you tell us about your family and growing up years?
I grew up on a ranch in Montana. With a saddle horse and a dirt bike, I didn’t spend much time at home. I eventually joined the Army to get out of Montana and start my own life. This also probably kept me from going to jail as I was a “work hard, play even harder” ranch kid and made some not so great decisions in my youth.

What was your first job?
My first real job was changing irrigation pipe twice a day for a neighboring rancher. I worked about four hours each pipe change and made a whopping $0.08 per pipe I moved, for a grand total of about $33 a day.

 What would surprise most people about you?
That I am very compassionate and a very nice person with a giant bleeding heart. I am very outgoing but with a very serious look on my face all the time, so people are probably surprised to find out who I really am.

How do you spend your time outside of work?
Outdoor activities when the Alaska winter life is not working me to death. My kids and I love shooting, hunting, and camping. In the winter our primary activity is a martial arts class that we have been doing for the last few months.

What do you like best about your job?
I like working with our customers to see how they operate in different industries and the challenges they face.

Tags: Lynden, Alaska West Express, Lynden Employees, Safety, Lynden Training Center, Everyday Heroes

AML Maintenance and Repair team achieves new heights in safety

Posted on Thu, Apr 14, 2022

blogProving that safety is job one at Alaska Marine Lines, the Maintenance and Repair (M&R) team came up with a 'better mousetrap,' according to Steve Hardin (pictured above, middle), Director of Equipment & Maintenance. Technicians do their complex work at all heights and in all positions. A tech might need to be lying flat on the ground to perform routine maintenance on a piece of equipment, or 10 feet in the air repairing the top of a tanker container.

It's the elevated repair work that can sometimes create dangerous situations. Falls are one of the most common injuries in the workplace. "Our employees have done a great job of remaining safe while working at heights," Steve says, "but we are always seeking ways to mitigate hazards."

Employees are outfitted with fall-arrest gear, but it requires time to unfasten and refasten belts and buckles as they move from point to point. Agreeing that there was room for improvement, the fab shop crew of Michael Fico (pictured above, left), Kelly Skinner and Adam Carruthers (pictured above, right) started brainstorming ideas and came up with a completely new way to work at elevation. Within a few weeks a container tank scaffolding system was designed to fit over the containers, creating a stable and much safer framework for techs to perform repair and maintenance tasks.

Dubbed the "CTS," the rack is made of heavy-gauge steel channel fabricated with a ladder to access the top of a tank container. "We knew there had to be a safer, more convenient way to work on top of equipment," says Welder Michael Fico. To keep it in place, the CTS is equipped with steel plungers in each corner, and wheels were added to easily move it from one piece of equipment to another in the shop.

Steve says the CTS prototype is just the beginning and that more safety features will be added to future models.

Tags: Lynden, Lynden Employees, Safety, AML

Lynden Air Cargo completes campaign in Afghanistan

Posted on Fri, Oct 15, 2021

AfghCrewLynden Air Cargo completed its campaign in Afghanistan in June after flying six flights and over 68 flight hours for the U.S. military. "We operated out of Bahrain for just under a month providing scheduled service and hauling Cargo Returning West (CRW) out of Bagram, twice a week," says Flight Engineer Mike Schuler. One Lynden crew was dedicated to Afghanistan flights while other crews served Kuwait, Qatar, Jordan and Saudi Arabia. "The June Afghanistan campaign was a short one compared to the ongoing services we are providing around Kuwait," Mike explains. "No day was the same. We adapted and performed in true Lynden Air Cargo fashion despite changing and often challenging circumstances."

"This was a volunteer campaign, and we really appreciate all the crew members who accepted this duty," says Michelle Fabry, Director of Safety. "The security situation required good communication with the crew prior to every flight to ensure each mission could be safely operated. They did an excellent job."

Tags: Lynden Air Cargo, Safety, Charters, Air

Lynden mariners keep waters and people safe

Posted on Fri, Sep 03, 2021

Greta crew long shotLynden's captains, engineers, mates and deck hands do more than just deliver freight via barge, landing craft and tugboat. These mariners are the eyes and ears on the waters they sail, often being called upon to assist in emergency situations and to report on marine conditions for other vessels.

Just last month on the Kuskokwim River, the Bering Marine crew of the landing craft Greta pulled a man to safety after he fell off a seawall, while the crews of the Arctic Bear and Padilla assisted U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Hickory with safe navigation of the river channel.

According to Brandon Leary, Alaska Marine Trucking's Bethel Service Center Manager, "I was getting ready for bed and my wife, Alyssa, actually saw the man fall in the river. I ran down with a life ring that I keep on my deck, and I had my wife alert the crew on the Greta while I assisted the man in the water." The Greta crew responded with a Jacob's ladder boarding device, then contacted emergency crews who met the tug on shore and transported the man to a local hospital.

"The City of Bethel would like to extend thanks and appreciation to the Greta crew," says Bethel City Manager Peter Williams. Police Lieutenant Jesse Poole also expressed thanks for the quick actions of the crew, which includes Captain Mike Dawson, Engineer Clint Mathews, Mates Chris Benny and Fred Haag, and Deckhands Anthony Augusto and Manny Belarmino.

"Those of us who live and work on vessels must always be prepared to expect the unexpected," says Captain Jack Rasmussen, Bering Marine Vice President. "We routinely perform safety drills so our crews know how to act and what to possibly expect during an incident. These drills are a regulatory requirement but also essential to protect our crews and equipment. We are proud of the Greta crew for their lifesaving actions in a Man Overboard (MOB) situation."

Another Bering Marine vessel was on the same river providing crucial navigation information so the U.S. Coast Guard could mark the channel with seasonal buoys. This is a yearly task as the channel changes each year.

"The Arctic Bear tug was running the river as soon as the ice went out this year," explains Port Engineer Steve Isaacs. "The crew developed a good track line by using a skiff they launch off the tug, help from locals in the area, and from Captain David Curtis on Bering Marine's pilot boat Padilla."

When the USCGC Hickory arrived in June, the crew reached out to Captain Chuck Gaffney on the Arctic Bear. He provided track lines for the 2021 channel and the location of shoals and sandbars to mark with buoys for safe navigation. In addition to Captain Gaffney, crew members include Engineer Sean Brooks and Mates Joe Pirak and Dave Smith.

Hickory Captain and Commanding Officer Jeannette Greene reached out to the crew with a thank you for the yearly assistance. "I sincerely appreciate your help with river information, soundings and shoaling each year," she writes. The Hickory crew marked buoy 28 with a small bear in appreciation of the Arctic Bear and its crew.

Tags: Bering Marine Corporation, Lynden Employees, Safety, Alaska, Ocean

Proximity alarm system on the job at Alaska Marine Lines

Posted on Fri, Feb 26, 2021

My Post - 2021-11-24T140735.626Alaska Marines Lines recently implemented a new safety device to increase awareness of the movement of people and equipment in Seattle and Southeast Alaska yards. SEEN Safety's Infrared Retroreflector Identification System (IRIS) is keeping employees and customers safer each day and protecting freight and equipment from damage.

The system uses light and radar to measure distances by illuminating the target with a laser light and measuring the reflection with a sensor. The IRIS sensor is designed to detect reflective material on safety equipment in proximities ranging from 28 feet wide to 25 feet deep and can be mounted on forklifts and low-speed vehicles. An audible alert signal is heard if the sensor lands within the detection zone. IRIS can detect reflective material on safety vests and works in all weather conditions, including rain, darkness and intense glare from sun or snow.

"We also added reflective tape to the counter-weight of the forklifts to help prevent collisions, which has already proven effective during barge operations," explains Joe Purcell, Alaska Marine Trucking Operations Manager.

The advantage of SEEN Safety's alarm is the adjustability. With varying barge operating conditions in Southeast, it is vital to be able to adjust the proximity beam to suit each port. "For example, when Ketchikan works a barge it is always full, so we adjusted the proximity to a smaller zone compared to Juneau where the barge is more than half empty," Joe explains.

"One of the major risks in Alaska Marine Lines' operations is mixing personnel working on the deck of our barges with 50-ton forklifts," says Don Reid, Alaska Marine Lines Vice President of Operations. "The Alaska Marine Lines safety team has been exploring solutions for many years and this proximity alarm technology is a major step toward mitigating that risk and keeping people safe on the barge deck."

Tags: Safety, AML

Knik Health and Safety Manager Dora Mae Hughes receives Alaska Excellence in Safety Award

Posted on Fri, Dec 04, 2020

My Post - 2021-11-22T131356.483Knik Construction Health and Safety Manager Dora Mae Hughes (above) was selected as a winner of the Associated General Contractors (AGC) of Alaska Excellence in Safety Awards in the Individual Category. "Dora was selected out of many of her industry peers for her approach to safety," says Knik President Dan Hall. "We clearly have an exceptional HSS manager and award winner on our team. What a great honor for Dora and Knik. This should lead us to a bright future with improving safety numbers."

Tags: Awards, Lynden Employees, Safety, Alaska, Knik Construction, Construction

Alaska Marine Lines employees participate in Stay 6', Stay Safe campaign

Posted on Tue, Jun 02, 2020

Alaska Marine Lines Stay Safe campaignAlaska Marine Lines launched a Stay 6', Stay Safe campaign and contest to encourage social distancing among onsite employees in Seattle, Alaska and Hawaii, according to Bridgette Bell, Director of Human Resources.

The contest ran for a few months and employees submitted ways they were staying safe while at work as well as at home to be entered into the weekly drawing. The employee whose name was drawn won a gift card to a local restaurant in an effort to support local businesses who are also feeling the effects of the pandemic.

Some of the employee led social distancing ideas included employees eating lunch outside or in their car instead of the lunchroom and taping a 6 foot line on the floor in offices. One manager even created a 6 foot safety stick as a tool to give employees a sense of how far away 6 feet actually is.

Even though the contest is no longer running employees are still supporting each other by maintaining social distancing guidelines. Pictured above are employees at the Yard 1 Diesel Shop in Seattle. "We are all in this together, just 6 feet apart," Bridgette says.

Tags: Lynden Employees, Safety, AML

Lynden employees keep the freight moving

Posted on Fri, Apr 24, 2020

Lynden employeeLynden employees are stepping forward to meet the needs of customers, keeping the freight moving as Lynden companies have always done during difficult times. Lynden has maintained regular business operations since the COVID-19 situation arose in late February with no disruption to global shipments or supply chains.

"The safety of our people and serving our customers are our priorities during these challenging times. We've been keeping freight moving to Alaska since 1954, and we're not planning to stop now," says Chairman Jim Jansen. "Lynden companies provide critical cargo services throughout Alaska and beyond and we are committed to delivering essential supplies and services to our customers and communities."

Lynden barges, trucks and planes deliver cargo to all points in Alaska including providing a supply lifeline to much of the state whose only surface supply line is Lynden and its dedicated people. "Our customers need our support to keep their businesses operating during this time and we are also supporting state and federal agencies. Keeping delivery routes open and supplies moving is our main focus and goal," explains Lynden President Jon Burdick. "We have dealt with earthquakes, oil spills, floods and other obstacles. This situation is no different."

According to Alaska Marine Trucking President Scott Hicks, employees are demonstrating the Lynden can-do attitude each day. "I have been so proud of our teams in Alaska," he says. "They are a shining example of the personal commitment required to keep businesses open and the economy moving. I know Lynden employees are doing the same in all locations."

Safety is one of Lynden's core values and many protocols have been implemented to ensure employees are operating in a safe and secure manner throughout all Lynden areas. Lynden's safety teams maintain active communication with local and federal agencies and comply with recommendations by the Centers for Disease Control.

"No transportation company in Alaska has a more essential and critical responsibility than we do," Jim says. "Without our service, many Alaskans would not have food and the other items essential to life. We can only meet their needs if our people are healthy, which is our No. 1 priority."

"As this situation unfolds, we are striving to offer a calm port in the storm by continuing to do our jobs as usual," Jon says. "Lynden has always responded in times of need and this is, unfortunately, one of those times. We are grateful for our dedicated employees who are dealing with additional challenges in their everyday work. They are the ones who allow us to serve our customers with minimal disruption."Lynden employee

Tags: Alaska Marine Trucking, Lynden Employees, Safety, Alaska, Truckload

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

Juneau driver’s fast actions prevent damages and injury

Posted on Wed, Jun 19, 2019

Alaska Marine Trucking DriverThe 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.

Tags: Alaska Marine Trucking, Lynden Employees, Safety, Alaska, Drivers, Truckload, AML