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Alaska State Chamber of Commerce E-News September 28, 2010


Mark Your Calendars

OCTOBER 27& 28

Do not miss the most important membership meeting of the year.  Join Alaska State Chamber Members, Board Members and Local Chamber Members in determining our 2010 Legislative Priorities and Positions.

Positions must have statewide impact and be consistent with the State Chamber's mission.  Each position submitted must have a representative available at the Tie-In to make a live presentation, which explains the reasoning and support for the position.  Each position must maintain close adherence to the format suggestions, especially financial impact; and strict adherence to the submittal deadline of October 15, 2010.  A copy of the Tie-In Guidelines is attached. 

All priorities and positions that are adopted at the Tie-In will be forwarded to the Board of Directors for ratification at the Board meeting on October 28. 

Registration and Agenda will be on-line late this week.

State Chamber Annual Raffle Winners

The Alaska State Chamber of Commerce held its Annual Raffle on September 21, 2010 during the Fall Conference and Trade Show in Juneau.  We greatly appreciate the support of everyone who helped sell tickets and/or purchased raffle tickets.  Raffle proceeds will allow the Chamber to continue its mission "To promote a positive business environment in Alaska".      

See complete list of winner On-Line

Totem Ocean Trailer Express celebrates 35th year

By Sean Manget

Alaska Journal of Commerce

This year marks the 35th anniversary of Totem Ocean Trailer Express's operations in Alaska, as 1975 was the first year in which the carrier's original steam ship, the S.S.  Great Land sailed from Washington to Alaska.

Since then, the company has, along with competitor Horizon Lines, become the primary transporter of goods into Alaska. Former Gov. Bill Sheffield, now the director of the Port of Anchorage, has often said that 85 percent of everything Alaskans eat, wear or drive comes through that port.  Totem is one of two carriers bringing in those goods.

George Lowery, the company's Alaska director, said the ensuing celebration was an understated affair, a small party for a longtime Alaska institution.

Lowery, who has served the company since 1977, just two years after its founding, reflected on the changes the company has undergone.

The size of their cargo loads has also changed, Lowery said.  Where Totem used to transport 40-foot-longer trailers on their ships, Totem vessels are now able to carry trailers that are 45, 48 and 53 feet long, now the standard in the Lower 48.

The carrier introduced to Alaska the concept of driving trucks straight on and off the vessel, Lowery said, rather than offloading the goods into separate containers that are lifted by crane.  This makes Totem's vessels more akin to floating parking garages, and offers greater flexibility because so long as a particular vehicle can be driven on a highway, it can also be made to fit on a Totem ship.

Beyond that, Totem's ships have modernized, replacing the old steam ship with two ships run on diesel engines that produce electricity.  Lowery said the newer engines are a bit more complex than the old, but they're also a lot more energy-efficient.

The company was founded in 1975 by Sun Co. of Philadelphia, just as the construction of the trans-Alaska oil pipeline led to a booming Alaska economy.  Pipeline workers and others flooded the state to get a piece of the action, and Totem's first vessel helped supply that influx with goods.

In 1977, the carrier expanded its fleet with one more vessel.  The company was purchased in 1982 by Totem Resources Corp., now known as Saltchuk Resources.

The company refurbished and added to its fleet a third vessel in 1993.

A new class of vessel, the Orca class, has replaced some of the older vessels.  The second Orca ship was added in 2003.

Despite a slight decline in container volumes in 2009, Lowery said activity recovered somewhat in 2010.

"The ships aren't full, but we've worked hard at keeping the break-even load factor down," Lowery said.

He said the company's resilience saw it through a number of years back in its infancy, when the company was losing money.

He said food shipments have remained relatively healthy while shipments of dry goods have diminished.

Despite the changes, the company has seen over the years, Lowery insists the company is defined more by what has not changed than what has.

"We still service the same market," he said.  "We still make serving Alaska what we do, and just totally focus on that."

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