98 Alaska Business Monthly | May 2015 www.akbizmag.com
Carrying cargoes that meet the ev- eryday needs of Alaska residents as well as to build large construction
projects requires more than a casual road
trip. Scheduling capacity, handling goods,
and identifying the optimum mode and
route rely on preparedness and careful
assessment of the journey that lies ahead.
The trucking industry has successfully
embraced technology and implemented
safety measures to improve the ride.
As trucking entities look down the road
for hazards, they recognize that lower oil
prices will likely reduce freight volumes.
They also see hardships if the state’s highways don’t receive adequate maintenance.
But the biggest and increasingly detrimental threat is the difficulty of placing a
driver behind the wheel.
Consequence in Motion
Aves Thompson, executive director of
the Alaska Trucking Association (ATA),
a trade association representing diverse
trucking operations competing in Alas-
ka, presented figures on the economic
impact of the industry during a press
conference that preceded the March 2,
2015, public hearing by the Department
of Interior on the proposed five-year off-
shore lease plan. According to Thompson,
more than three thousand family-owned
and corporate trucking businesses make
up the Alaska industry, which pays more
than $800 million in wages annually.
Statistics compiled by the ATA and
the national trade association American
Trucking Associations indicate that Alaska trucking provided 14,430 jobs, employing one out of seventeen civilian workers
in the state and providing an average salary of $54,662 in 2013. The mean average
salary for truck drivers was $47,450.
A highly competitive business, the Alaska
trucking industry has attracted players of
all sizes. Shippers have bountiful options
for consolidated or unconsolidated loads,
moving produce, building products, and
all manner of wares to, within, and from
Alaska. The providers compete through
responsive customer service that offers
specialized equipment, easy ordering
and tracking, and pricing alternatives.
Among the major players are two
businesses that belong to vertically in-
tegrated firms whose sister companies
complement the trucking capabilities.
In mid-2013, Saltchuk Resources, a
Seattle-based family of diversified transportation and petroleum distribution
companies, purchased Carlile Transportation Systems of Anchorage. Founded
in 1980, Carlile has 350 tractors, seven
hundred employees, and ten terminals,
including four outside of Alaska. Other
Saltchuk companies include Totem
Ocean Trailer Express, Delta Western,
Northern Air Cargo, Inlet Petroleum,
and Cook Inlet Tug & Barge.
One Carlile Transportation asset differentiating the trucking company is
an Alaska-dedicated lowboy trailer designed for moving oversized items and
Weaver Bros. moves oversize loads of empty storage tanks on the Dalton Highway.
Photo courtesy of Weaver Bros., Inc.
Roundup: Players, Trends, Issues
By Judy Griffin