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COVER STORY


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


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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 | www.mttrucking.org


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