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construction, then expanded into flatbed freight. Ken Stabler Trucking also owns a steel and recycling company and hauls its own scrap metal and new steel. While Montana has survived the recession

better than many other areas, the economic downturn of 2008-09 led Stabler to scale back operations from the lower 48 states. The company currently hauls to the Rocky Mountain States with a primary lane to Eastern Montana and the Denver area and trucks often return with oil field pipe. “I think I had six trucks of my own is the

most I ever had and then at that time I had a couple other guys that were leased on to me,” Stabler said. “So really about eight trucks is all I ever had under my dispatch.” Stabler said he wouldn’t mind expanding

again, but not too much. Small and manageable,” he said. “I’ve

never been a believer in a huge amount of debt. That always kind of scared me and particularly in the trucking industry. Man, it’s capital intensive.” Stabler the lifelong trucker only flirted

with a different line of work once, in southern California in the mid 1980s, and he soon realized he had made a mistake and began

to long for the wide open spaces of his native Montana. “I did take and spend one winter working

construction down in southern California in San Diego,” Stabler said. “I guess it was the winter of ‘84 and ‘85. I truck down there a lot and I always liked it but when I got in the middle of it the only thing I liked about it was the weather. You couldn’t get away from all those people.” Upon returning to trucking to stay, and

after beginning to expand his business just past the turn of the century, Stabler began to be active in the MCM. “When I was driving myself it was a little

more difficult to be very active,” Stabler said, explaining how his status as an owner- operator led him into the association. Stabler is proud to be a president from

the small operator ranks and said the office benefits from having presidents from different sized companies. Stabler said as the current president, he’d

prefer to keep things on the intimate level he is used to as a businessman. “I’d really like to make personal contact

with as many of the membership as possible,” Stabler said. “And I don’t guess I really know

the words I’m trying to say but I’d like to make sure that those that we serve feel that they’re getting good representation. Because the association adds a lot and I think associations as a rule are easy to put on the back burner and you only get out of an association what you put into it. “If you want information and want to get

stuff out of them you can reap a great deal of influence. If you don’t participate you won’t get anything out of it.” One of the issues Stabler hopes to

tackle is the driver shortage, something that is plaguing the area and keeping him from expanding again. “We’re sitting in a great spot,” he said.

“I’m over here in southeastern Montana. And eastern Montana and western North Dakota have just been booming for the past three years. We’re extremely fortunate. We don’t really know that we’ve had a recession, to be quite honest with you. The thing that we struggle with here because of all this activity going on is a shortage of labor. If you did go out and recruit labor, I don’t care where you went, if you went to Denver or Salt Lake or Minneapolis … we have no place to put them. … We have no available housing.

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ISSUE 5, 2012 |

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