Henry, also known as Hank, Jansen was a true pioneer of the west, or rather of the development of transportation to and from, and in, Alaska following the completion of the Alaska Highway, also known as the Alcan Highway.
In the 1940’s, Henry worked as a truck driver for a small trucking firm in Lynden, Washington, picking up milk from the dairy farmers in the Lynden area. The owner of the trucking firm was getting older, and when the owner sold the firm to another party of two owners, and the new owners decided to get rid of the trucking firm, Henry together with two other partners bought the firm. Soon thereafter, the two other partners also separated from the firm, and Henry Jansen became sole owner of the Lynden trucking company, and named it Lynden Transport.
During the early forties, the Alaska Highway was built by military and civilians at an incredible pace. On some days as many as eight miles would be added to the road. To be sure it was not a super highway, but it allowed special heavy duty trucks to move up and down the highway under reasonable weather conditions. The urgency of the rapid build up of the highway was necessitated because the military needed a land route to be able to quickly move from the continental United States to Alaska. Sole dependence on the sea route to Alaska was too risky, and Alaska was not far from Japan, the enemy facing us from the west.
Following the completion of the Alaska Highway, in 1943, the Haines Highway was completed. It connected the Alaska Highway with the town of Haines in eastern Alaska. But at that time, travel on the Alaska Highway was still quite an adventure, and only doable with off road type vehicles. In 1949 that changed, the Alaska Highway had been improved to the point were it was passable for ordinary traffic, and especially for truck traffic.
A few years later, the Canadian Hart Highway was completed. It provided a link between the Alaska Highway, and roads in British Columbia, that connected with Seattle. This opened up an opportunity for entrepreneurial truckers. Jansen saw the opportunity to provide trucking services to Alaska from the northwestern United States. And the first load of Lynden Transport from their base in Lynden, Washington to Fairbanks, Alaska was a load of 36,000 pounds of fresh beef. With two truck drivers, the trip was made in four days, in record time, and the first commercial road delivery of fresh food was made to Alaska.
The two truck drivers were not only needed for the driving, but also for the maintenance of the truck itself, especially of its tires. The trip from northwestern Washington to Fairbanks, Alaska, could result in numerous tire changes because truck tires were just not able to stand up to the road conditions on the trip. On average as many as 20 tires had to be changed, and the record for one trip was 60 tire changes. Keep in mind that tire technology in the early 1950’s was still rather primitive. The steel belted tire of today is able to withstand the punishment of Alaska Highway travel much better.
In 1964, Alaska was hit by a severe earthquake, causing much damage and destruction of infrastructure. Lynden Transport was able to step in and provide much needed supplies for relief and later for rebuilding of the infrastructure. Also at that time Lynden began trucking operations in Alaska itself. The company became involved in extensive mail hauling and also in parcel delivery, on contract with United Parcel Service.
In the early 1970’s, work was begun on the Alaskan Pipeline, and Lynden Transport would become a major supplier of trucking services supplying the needs of pipe line construction, and the needs of the work force working on the pipe line. Following completion of the pipe line, Lynden would continue to be the supplier for maintenance services of the pipe line.
Along the way Lynden Transport also became involved with shipping, so it could reach some of the Alaskan locations that were only accessible by sea. Initially it did so as a joint venture, but eventually the company developed its own shipping fleet. In the late 1970’s, Lynden got involved in air transportation, initially buying space on existing air freight companies. But soon thereafter the company acquired its own aircraft. Its current fleet consists of five L-100’s, more commonly known as C-130 Hercules freighters. One of the planes serves the Alaska market, and three others carry freight for the U. S. Air Force under a civilian contract. The fifth plane is rotated for routine maintenance needs.
Lynden, Incorporated has grown to a transportation giant generating well over half a billion dollars of revenue with about 1500 employees. The corporation consists of 12 subsidiaries including Alaska Marine Lines, Alaska Marine Trucking, Alaska Rainbelt Marine, Alaska West Express, Alaska West Training, Bering Marine, Lynden Air Cargo, Lynden Airfreight, Lynden Expo Air, Lynden International, Lynden International Logistics, Lynden Transport, LTI, Inc. and Milky Way. Note Milky Way, the local milk transporter, started it all, but only contributes about 3 percent to Lynden, Inc.’s revenues.
Over time, Henry Jansen has turned over the management of the business to his sons. His son Jim is currently the CEO, and his other son, Guy, is also involved in the business. Henry also had two daughters, Heidi Doornenbal, and Pauli Hall. At the time of his death, he was also survived by three sisters and three brothers. Memorial services for him were held on October 2, 2002 in the Henry Jansen Agricultural Center in Lynden, Washington.
Lynden, Inc. keeps on truckin’, by Christopher Key, http://www.nwbusinessmonthly.com/Businesspulse/bp2002/dec/1202bplynden.html
Lynden patriarch Henry Jansen dies at 84, http://bulktransporter.com/mag/transportation_lynden_patriarch_henry/
Lynden Inc., Alaska Business Monthly, October 2001, http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_hb5261/is_200110/ai_n20371100
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