Go to any elementary school library and there’s bound to be a book or two on tug boats. Tugs, barges, and pulling and pushing cargo in stormy seas are as much a part of the American maritime tradition and marine ethos as “deadliest catch” commercial fishing and the prominence of the country’s US Coast Guard protecting domestic waters.
Alaska Business Monthly met the first week of April with Alaska transportation industry leaders to talk about some of the issues facing Alaska, facing the industry, and facing their companies. Saltchuk Managing Director Harry McDonald, Carlile Transportation President Terry Howard, Weaver Bros. Vice President Jimmy Doyle, and Alaska Trucking Association Executive Director Aves Thompson shared industry insights and most of that is in the print edition. In the print edition we edited for brevity and have included more of the discussion here in the online and digital editions.
It is early afternoon in Brevig Mission on Alaska’s Seward Peninsula and the kids are clamoring for fresh pizza for dinner. The nearest pizza joint is sixty-five roadless miles away in Nome, but all it takes is a phone call and a couple hours later a half-Hawaiian, half-reindeer sausage pizza from Nome’s Airport Pizza is delivered, courtesy of Bering Air’s regularly scheduled flight.
If there’s an anchor to the economy in Southeast Alaska it’s the regional maritime industry, which ranges from fisheries, water transportation, cruise ship support, the state ferry system (itself one of the largest marine employers) to, finally, shipbuilding, the new bright spot for the region.
Ravn Alaska has had anything but a traditional business history. The company’s 2014 rebranding delineated clearly for clients and customers what the company is and how it’s going to move forward providing scheduled and chartered passenger and cargo services throughout Alaska.
That’s the big takeaway I got from talking to transportation leaders about key issues facing the industry. Labor and the economy were the two main challenges and recruiting drivers is a big deal. There’s not much I can do about the economy, so I thought I would try to help get the industry more drivers.
While wood bison are usually considered to be fairly docile animals, the fact that they can weigh between 1,200 and 2,600 pounds makes them a rather intimidating species.