borne transit meets the needs of most shippers between Alaska and the Lower 48.
A wide variety of trucking specialties
also serve Alaska. They operate equipment
of all sizes, from vans to tractors hauling
oversized loads. Based in Anchorage and
founded in 1946, the company that today
operates as Weaver Bros., Inc., owns about
130 trucks and other specialized equipment and has roughly 150 employees. A
large part of the carrier’s business is hauling petroleum and chemicals in tankers.
“People always want to see fewer
trucks on the road,” says Jimmy C. Doyle,
vice president of Weaver Bros., “but in
one day some gas stations may run out
of fuel without a delivery. We service
some stations twice a day.” According to
Doyle, for the recent three years his company has seen strong demand for winch
trucks to move and support drilling rigs
on the Kenai Peninsula.
Because lower oil prices are expected to
reduce investment by the oil and gas in-
dustry and the state is cutting spending,
trucking companies are likely to see de-
clining volumes. Possible reductions of
the military presence in the state is an-
other threat to transportation demand.
Doyle points out that loss of oil and
gas jobs results in fewer people living here. Freight moving to the state
shrinks, requiring less demand for
water carrier movements. “Every piece
of the transportation chain would be
negatively affected,” he adds.
Doyle says that one long-term strategy Weaver follows to be positioned to
better weather a downturn has been
conservative investments in equipment.
He explains that the trucking business
is capital intense and a lot of companies
buy fifty trucks a year with leasing or financing. “We have stayed out of financing and heavy debt,” Doyle notes.
“The outlook for 2015 and beyond is
a concern,” says Pacific Alaska Freightways’ Renfrew. “There may be a hesitancy to plan new projects.” Renfrew says he
feels that as volumes decline his company
will benefit from having achieved greater
diversification into retail, government
agencies, oilfield support, and fishing.
“We’ll have to see what projects move
along. The Kenai Peninsula will likely
stay strong, but I’m not sure about the
North Slope activity,” Renfrew adds.
Bill Meszaros, vice president of sales
and marketing for Span Alaska, says
that the good reputation enjoyed by Span
Alaska will serve his company well as
competition heats up. He explains that
projects already funded will continue to
feed freight demand. “We are cautiously
optimistic about 2016,” Meszaros adds.
Carlile’s Howard says 2015 is ex-
pected to be similar to 2014, but 2016
is more uncertain because of hesitancy
in the oil and gas industry to plan long-
range spending. “Companies can’t turn
the spigot back on that fast,” he notes.
According to Howard, Carlile expects
to continue upgrading its fleet. “In fact,
we expect to spend more on equipment,
not cut back,” he adds.
Jim Scherieble, general manager for
Alaska with Kenworth Alaska, says
truck sales last year created one of the
best years ever seen by the company.
“We’re still getting calls, but not the big
orders like last year,” he says.
Keys to Operating
Industry leaders cite two trends as
is loaded from a
Weaver Bros. ninety-
ton bed truck onto
a barge at Nikiski for
Photo courtesy of
Weaver Bros., Inc.