Ice Road Truckers
Carlile Transportation Systems is world renown to readily accept the most difficult transportation challenges. The History channel offers an opportunity to share a glimpse of the experience as Carlile trucks make more than a dozen trips to Prudhoe Bay every day, year round despite treacherous road conditions and through the very worst of weather the Arctic can muster. No challenge seems too big for these professionals even 10 children amidst the staff of their Anchorage terminal in the middle of a busy work day.
The company was founded in the 80′s by two brothers; John and Harry McDonald. One of our questions was where did the name Carlile come from? Its John’s middle name! Through Harry’s generosity we found ourselves led through the operations by the CEO himself. Starting in the conference room, Zoe age 6 took the opportunity to tell the first Dalton Highway story. Her tiny voice told of the Prudhoe Bay trip we took a little more than a year ago and the rock that kicked up and came crashing through the rear window of the Suburban. Less than 25 miles from Deadhorse in 20 degree Fahrenheit the wind was blowing glass though the vehicle as we duct taped a tarp over the back of the car. ‘Thank-you’ was her message as the first to stop was a Carlile semi-truck. The driver hanging out the cab assessed if we were alright. Convincing him the 11 of us in the over stuffed Suburban were fine took some time. Once sure we were ok he headed north to town.
The culture of Carlile clearly includes family. Around every turn, door, and truck we found smiling faces with a genuine goodness behind it. Each happy to see us come through and eager to share their stories. The staff warmly welcomed the children into the offices of sales, IT, planning, dispatch, billing, training, the warehouse, and many others as we made our way through the impeccably clean facility. Images of trucks in the field, models, and maps decorate halls and office spaces reminding the occupants of the activities in the field. Posters encouraging employees and reaffirming the mission and core values are scattered throughout – great to see an organization bringing these to the forefront. This is a family blog and I won’t get into the observations I had on the positive use of data and information systems that clearly represent the best of modernized trucking and transportation management. Sorry about the whiteboard, I thought it would make a better picture than lcd screens and projectors.
At the training center we met the newest drivers and participated in the vetting process for driver selection – the simulation. The trainers proved to be extraordinarily patient with us as the noise level of the kids became deafening! Each was exited to give the big rig a try, despite half of them unable to operate the truck as they could not reach the pedals.
Watch out Lisa and Jack, these kids are starting the training early on the simulator. This was the highlight of the trip for the kiddos. This hands on training tool is state of the art and able to provide scenarios drivers will face both inside the city and out on the ice roads. Damage was light today; one down pedestrian, two dogs, four cars, two trees, a fence and a mailbox. The kids have a long way to go to meet the high standards of Carlile.
A big thank-you to the staff and especially to Harry McDonald for welcoming us in and making us part of the family for the afternoon. We look forward to another season of Ice Road Truckers, but more importantly to seeing these rigs in action first hand as we travel across Alaska on our own adventures.