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Changing Hands, Not Tradition

Phil Hinshaw and Tim Burke on 50 years of Sammons Trucking

BY TODD TRAUB ContributingWriter

There is no case of mistaken identity here. After 50 years and three major sales,

Sammons Trucking is still Sammons Trucking. In January the Missoula, Montana-based

company celebrates its 50th anniversary, which is a monumental achievement for any business given the ups and downs of the economy and the changing face of American business through the decades. Or, as Sammons president Tim Burke

mildly put it, “Fifty years is just huge.” Sammons, founded by Pete Sammons as

primarily a hauler of lumber in 1962, has had it better than some and worse than others, but it has rolled with the changes to emerge as one of the top, open-deck/truckload


carriers with more than 300 units serving 49 states and Canada. “We’ve done well; we’ve done fine,”

Burke said. “We made it through one of the toughest recessions I’ll probably ever see in my lifetime. But, here were are—back to 300 trucks and moving freight around the country, in Canada and Alaska.” While the changes, primarily

modernization and the aforementioned sales have been mighty, Sammons has held onto its name and identity as 100 percent owner- operator operation. “This company goes long and deep in

regards to background, its culture, its safety and roots as an owner-operator-based company,” Burke said. “We aren’t anything without our

operators,” said Sammons director of safety Phil Hinshaw, a former owner-operator himself. “We truly believe that. They are what make us successful.” Burke, 54, arrived on the Sammons scene

as vice president of sales in 2003 and found a cozy, family-type atmosphere that reminded him of his pleasant stay with Anderson Trucking Service in St. Cloud, Minn., in the 1980s and 1990s. “I flew out there and fell in love with the

community,” Burke said of Missoula. “It’s just like the community I fell in love with when I landed in St. Cloud.” Hinshaw, 64, had been an owner-operator

and then safety coordinator with Gordon Trucking, a 700- to 800-truck operation based in Seattle. Opting out of the big city lifestyle

ROADWISE | ISSUE 6, 2011 |

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