Alaska's transportation industry generally calls to mind images of eighteenwheelers traveling the Dalton Highway, bush planes landing on remote lakes, barges delivering row upon row of metal shipping containers, or the Alaska Railroad moving coal or fuel. While moving goods in bulk around Alaska is vital, there are smaller movements taking place every day that are just as vital to business, often accomplished through the aid of Alaska's ubiquitous fleet vehicles.
Carl Authement is the Commercial Fleet manager for Lithia Chrysler Jeep Dodge of Anchorage. "Commercial clients' new vehicle needs is my main job," he says. "It could be trucks, SUVs, cars, whatever that may be." Lithia primarily sells commercial fleet vehicles. Authement says: "our goal is to give our customers a work-ready vehicle, wherever they need it."
He notes that Lithia provides fleet vehicles to a variety of industries in Alaska. Many of their larger customers are in construction or oil and gas, but some are service companies (installing telecommunications, for example) or engineering firms. Larger customers will sometimes put out a bid for a lot of up to sixty units as often as once a year. "Other smalleror medium-sized companies may buy a few vehicles here and there two or three times a year," Authement says.
"I also assist not only with company vehicles, but employees, owners, and managers; so I may see one company come in, whether it's for the company or for the owners or whatever, a handful of times throughout the year," he says.
Lithia provides a range of vehicles to suit the needs of their clients, though "it's typically a basic type vehicle with not a ton of options." He says Lithia calls these basic work trucks "tradesman packages," and they feature a white body, power windows, power locks, vinyl floors, and four wheel drive.
Most fleet vehicles in Alaska are trucks. Authement says Lithia sells the standard 1500 (half-ton), 2500 (three-quarter ton), and 3500 (one-ton) trucks. He continues, "We also sell 4500s and 5500s, which are considered medium duty trucks, and not every dealer has those." After trucks the next largest volume of vehicles are vans. Authement explains that while many customers know what their fleet vehicle needs are, he is happy to help customers identify which type of vehicle best fits their unique needs.
Authement says Lithia always keeps a current stock of fleet-appropriate vehicles for last-minute or unexpected requests, including vans and trucks with flatbed, utility/service, dump truck bed, or a standard truck bed or a truck cab/chassis without a specific body or bed, ready to be customized. Ordering a vehicle can take from two to six months for a specialty rig. "Having a good inventory is...