|me three or four
days to round it up and get back to them, they have already forgotten
what they wanted,"
he says. "We live in an on-time world. Information that used to take
three or four day to compile is now done in split seconds."
Safety is an important consideration at Hanson Trucking. Despite Montana's often severe winter conditions, there has only been one day-shift in the last 12 years when drivers left their trucks parked. "If the mill is running our guys are expected to be out there," Steve says. "Each driver is responsible for his own safety out on the highway."
Montana might be thought of as having wide open spaces, but Highway 93 between Kalispell and Missoula is one of the heaviest traveled roads in the state and traffic conditions can rival the busiest big city rush hour.
"People who come here from Washington will tell you that traffic is worse here because people aren't used to driving in congested conditions," says Steve, who is a board member of the Montana Motor Carriers Association. "I can't imagine driving a 100,000 pound truck back and forth between Columbia Falls and Missoula every day. The drivers have got to have a lot of patience."
Another difference between hauling chips in Montana versus on the coast is that during the winter, as when
|temperatures drop to 20
wet material is prone to freeze to the inside trailer walls. To deal
with the problem, the trailers are fitted with a plastic floor to allow
the wood chips and shavings to slide more easily. Another solution is
to coat the walls with a mist of antifreeze.
Slips, trips and falls are some of the most common injuries for truck drivers, especially for chip and log truck operators who are often climbing on and off the loads and trailers. The icy Montana conditions can add to the problem. Hanson drivers are required to wear a safety harness whenever they need to scrape ice and snow off of the trailer tarps.
The nature of the business
As timber supplies shrink, mills close and the hauls get longer, Hanson looks for new ways to improve and expand their value within the industry.
"Our whole business totally relies on our service," Steve reiterates.
"The trucking companies that are here today are helping each other stay in business. In order for us to get any bigger one of the other companies would have to go away because there is only so much raw material to haul."
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