Moving firm lays off 28

Douglas Trucking sold to Reliable

Posted: Tuesday, September 19, 2000

Longtime local moving company Douglas Trucking is dissolving its business operations and will close its doors Sept. 30.

Douglas Trucking co-owner Frank Palmer, 61, made the announcement this morning, ending speculation that the company would merge with another company or file for bankruptcy.

"It's something that I've been thinking about for a long time," said Palmer, who took over ownership in 1974 and co-owns the company with James Orme, who is retired. "We have a lot of history in this town. It's been a beautiful outfit with beautiful employees. I'm really going to miss it all, but it's time for me."

He said some of his 28 employees will look for local work in the moving industry, but have not been assured jobs anywhere including treasurer Floyd Fuette, a 20-year employee, and vice president Bill Stevenson, a 22-year employee.

All of Douglas Trucking's assets, including its administrative offices and warehouse on Airport Boulevard, will be sold to Reliable Transfer Corp., a local and long-distance moving company based in Juneau.

Reliable will also purchase the company's 17 moving trucks and take over routes Douglas Trucking established in Hoonah, Angoon, Tenakee and Pelican.

"Our goal is to make this as seamless as possible," said Roger Calloway, who's owned Reliable Transfer for three years.

He said Douglas Trucking, which along with Reliable was the only locally owned moving company, will be missed.

"They're good people. They've been around for a long time and we have the utmost respect for what they've done," Calloway said. "We weren't in a 'Let's take over the world' thing. It was just something created by external competitive pressures."

Reliable, established in 1914, also has a fuel delivery service and a sister company, Alaska Juneau Moving, which delivers alcohol. The company now will have 40 trucks, tractors and vans and will employ about 35 people year-round.

Some of those may be former Douglas Trucking employees, but that is still to be worked out, Calloway said.

Juneau Wholesale, a division of Douglas Trucking that delivers dairy products, produce and meats, has also been sold. Palmer wouldn't specify who the buyer was, but he said the company will continue to provide uninterrupted delivery service.

Palmer said merging with another organization wasn't an option for him.

"I've been here (with Douglas Trucking) since I was 25 years old," he said. "If I merge I'm still responsible, and I don't want to be responsible for nothing anymore."

He said poor business was not the reason he dissolved, noting that "this is one of the best years we've had in the last seven or eight years."

The rumor that Douglas Trucking was filing for bankruptcy was also false, he noted.

"All of the bills will be paid," he said. "We're not bankrupt. There's plenty of money to cover everything."

Douglas Trucking was started on Douglas Island in 1930 by Bill Fleek under the name Fleek Transfer. The name was changed to Douglas Trucking in 1947.

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