Keeping Alaska Supplied: Pacific Alaska Forwarders Inc.


Reading the ups and downs of the shipping logs of Alaska Pacific Forwarders, one can follow the modern history of Alaska. From the rebuilding after the 1964 Good Friday Earthquake, through the development of the trans-Alaska oil pipeline, to clean-up efforts of the Exxon Valdez oil spill, Pacific Alaska has been a major player in the transfer of goods from the Lower 48 to the 49th state.

Now with more than 94 employees, Pacific Alaska has grown to a company with $25 million in sales--80 percent of that from Alaska-bound business. The bulk of Pacific Alaska's business is in the Railbelt, but the company services ports throughout the state.

Pacific Alaska Forwarders' owners pride themselves on being independent and thus able to supply their customers with shipping services covering air freight, over the road/Alaska Highway service, ship container service, roll-on/roll-off service, and rail barge service, states the company's comprehensive Web site, The company's customer base includes major national less-than-load accounts, construction accounts, and oil and gas industry accounts. Pacific Alaska Forwarders is the leader in shipping programs for electrical and plumbing wholesale distributors, the company states.

From company offices at their facility in Fife, Wash. near the Port of Tacoma, CEO J. Alain Smith explains why his company is unusual.

For one thing, Pacific Alaska owns its own terminal facilities at four sites in Alaska--Anchorage, Fairbanks, Kenai and Kodiak--as well as the one at Fife. The firm also owns a fleet of trucks and other equipment, making Pacific Alaska's operations fundamentally different from those of most expediting and forwarding firms--that in essence shuffle paper, but don't do the actual moving, says Smith.

"We're a forwarder by name," Smith says. "But realistically we're an over-the-water trucking company."

Pacific Alaska Forwarders was established in...

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