For more than a century, Lynden has been dedicated to delivering cargo faster to wherever customers are in need — from the smallest towns to the largest industrial sites.
Ed Austin began using a team of horses and an iron-wheeled wagon 111 years ago to haul freight in Lynden, Washington. Twenty years later, he sold the horse and bought a truck to haul cargo from Lynden to Seattle.
Lynden steadily transformed over the decades from a modest-sized company that trucked dairy products from Lynden to Seattle into an Alaska-based family of transportation companies that can move just about any shipment of freight via truck, plane, railroad, barge or ship, and whisk it anywhere in the world.
Lynden companies now transport milk and meat to grocery stores throughout Alaska, rail-ship and tanker-truck millions of gallons of methanol and specialty chemicals to support the energy industry, and fly camp supplies and mining reagents to remote Alaska mines.
The company has been an Associated General Contractors of Alaska member since 1999.
One client, Patrick Loebson of Icicle Seafoods in Petersburg, said Alaska Marine Lines, part of the Lynden family of companies, is always consistent.
“There’s long ways to haul this equipment north and south, through a lot of actually treacherous waters and tides and weather, and these guys are great,” he said, in a Lynden video. “They show up, they do what they say they’re going to do, and we’ve come so much (to rely) on it, it actually becomes an issue we don’t think about too much.”
The largest concern Icicle has, he continued, is getting product out quickly enough to the market.
“Being as remote as we are, and especially in the fish business where we’ve got a huge volume in a short period of time, we need the support,” Loebson said. “They need to be there when we need them. There’s not much room for missed opportunities. It’s like clockwork. Every week, every month, year after year, (Alaska Marine Lines is) right on schedule.”
Kevin Anderson, president of Alaska Marine Lines, joined Lynden right after finishing his education at Western Washington University in 1981.
“I was excited about the opportunity to work in Alaska,” said Anderson, who added that he was involved with the company in 1985, when it evolved from a “very small player” in Southeast Alaska to one of the major players in the transportation industry when it began serving all major communities in that region.
Now Alaska Marine Lines provides scheduled and charter barge service throughout Alaska and Hawaii. It operates 39 barges up to 100 feet wide and 420 feet long, and 22,000 pieces of equipment that include containers, flats, chassis, forklifts and cranes.
“We focused on efficiencies and maximizing payloads — larger containers, increased lifting capacity of forklifts and larger-capacity barges; we invested to provide the customer with more service options,” Anderson said, explaining “big-picture” shifts that sharpened the company’s capabilities. “We implemented twice-weekly service to Southeast Alaska in 1989.”
Alaska Marine Lines’ 2013 acquisition of Northland Services made the company capable of serving all coastal communities of Alaska — from Ketchikan to Barrow.
“By serving all the different regions of Alaska — Southeast, Central, Prince William Sound, Western Alaska, Aleutian Islands — we are able to move goods between these areas and share barges, where before, separate barges had to serve these regions. This allows us to be more efficient and provide comprehensive service to our customers.”
Paul Friese, vice president, Alaska sales, for Lynden Transport, worked in the insurance and air freight industries while attending college.
“Lynden was my first career job after graduating with a degree in business,” he said. “I have been with Lynden for 26 years and plan to retire with Lynden.”
Friese said Lynden has succeeded in Alaska for a simple reason.
“Lynden has worked very hard to provide options for our customers,” he said. “We don’t just look at it as moving freight but helping our neighbors and friends to live a better lifestyle, even in a remote state like Alaska.”
Friese said Lynden offers cus-tomers dynamic routing or the option of only paying for the speed they need. “This option allows customers to use multiple modes of transportation to get their goods to Alaska. We offer weekly barge service, twice-a-week ship service and over-the-road QuickTrans service twice a week, which is more expensive but also arrives in only 50 hours.”
Service can be tailored, he added.
“Most of our customers mix and match these different levels of service to manage their inventory and projects,” Friese said. “For example, a construction company may use ship service to bring in the first loads to get the job started then switch some of the loads over to the barge to save money since they cannot erect all the steel at the same time. Most contractors will also use the expedited highway or air service many times throughout the life of the project to get critical items on site.”
The most critical aspect of business for Lynden is growing a workforce culture steeped in safety — both inside and outside the company.
Lynden Training Center, in Fairbanks, provides hands-on workplace safety training in hazardous materials transportation and emergency response.
“Their staff that help us with the hazmat training are always knowledgeable,” said Jason Anderson of the Fairbanks Fire Department.
While Lynden’s companies deploy their transportation fleets in the air, on land and through the water, they also employ a web-based EZ Commerce system that enables them to focus on exacting details — smoothing the supply chain and making a difference in the success of their clients’ businesses.
Chris Jensen of Southeast Furniture Warehouse in Juneau said Lynden’s website and freight tracking help him in a meaningful way.
“(It’s) very important to us to be able to set expectation levels for customers,” he said. “I can go right on there, find their shipment, look at documents, know what’s coming and when it’s going to be here. When Mrs. Jones wants to know when her couch is going to be here, I can go right to the site and tell her the day it’ll be here.”