Chamber spotlights Carlile Transportation Systems

As part of its ongoing Alaska Outreach series – publicizing Alaska-oriented businesses and their economic impact on the Puget Sound region – the Tacoma Pierce County Chamber has spotlighted Carlile Transportation Systems.

Chamber officials, as well as representatives of the Port of Tacoma, Carlile customers and others turned out for a luncheon meeting yesterday at Carlile Transportation System’s Federal Way facility.

“We’re here to make the Alaska connection to Puget Sound more visible,” explained Rod Koon, chair of the Chamber’s Alaska Committee.

Carlile Transportation Systems is prominent among many businesses in the Tacoma-Federal Way area that does business with Alaska, contributing to the jobs and tax base of the local economy.

Alaska is an important Pacific Rim business and trade partner for the Pacific Northwest in general, and the South Sound area specifically.

If Alaska were a separate country, its two-way trade – worth about $3.5 billion and comprised of almost a half-million containers – through the Port of Tacoma would exceed that of all others except Japan.

The Port of Tacoma handles more than 75 percent of all waterborne commerce between the continental United States and Alaska, earning its reputation as the “Gateway to Alaska.”

Carlile Transportation Systems primary function is to serve its Alaska clients by forwarding items via truck, rail, steamship, barge and air through Canada, and the company also is expanding into the Pacific Northwest to serve its clients there.

“Just about anything you want to move to Alaska, we’ll handle,” said Linda Leary, vice president of sales for Carlile Transportation Systems.

Part of that process is making sure the merchandise keeps moving through the Federal Way facility, said warehouse operations employee Brandon Valenta.

It’s a fast-moving business and it’s important to keep things moving by keeping people motivated, he explained.

On average, 70-to-100 loads per week leave the Federal facility, Leary noted.

“We ship everything from caramel apples to structural beams for buildings,” Valenta said.

Leary agreed: “It’s a real mix of stuff.”

Business has been good for Carlile Transportation Systems, which has evolved from a small Alaska intrastate carrier that incorporated in 1980 to becoming a full service transportation provider to clients throughout North America and beyond.

The company has 450 total employees, including 60 at the Federal Way location, with its corporate headquarters in Anchorage Alaska.

Carlile Transportation Systems also has a facility in Houston, Texas.

Carlile Transportation Systems is outgrowing its 12-acre Federal Way facility, Leary said, adding the company will remain for at least another three years at its present location, which is when the lease on the building expires.