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Growth with a Strategic Outlook

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In business, it can be difficult to excel at everything. Sometimes, spreading yourself thin can result in diminishing returns and companies can be better minded focusing on one track. However, occasionally a company emerges with the skill, ability, and dedication to meet a sector’s needs in multiple areas. STR Alaska is one such company. Covering anything and everything that falls under the umbrella of transportation, it offers high quality and professionalism in everything from basic trucking to project management, project tracking and logistics controls. Primarily operating in the state of Alaska, STR Alaska handles a lot of cargo originating from the lower states, transporting goods via truck, steamships, barges, and any means necessary. Its clients receive additional support and assurance knowing that the company also coordinates the water shipments. Cody Hyce, VP of Operations and Logistics at STR Alaska describes the company as “a one-stop shop for our customers to get their cargo into the country from outside of the country – or anywhere around the world, to their job sites within Alaska.”

The company has an extensive range of heavy equipment, including general freight, semi-trucks, trailers, flatbeds and step decks ranging from 50 to 110 tons. Its bigger trailers can transport an incredible 80 feet of cargo ranging in weight from zero to 110 tonnes and 24 feet wide and navigate the challenging terrain through the use of push trucks that provide “extra traction and horsepower to get up some of the hills.” Hyce explained that, in addition to its fleet of forklifts and loaders, the company maintains excellent relationships with local crane companies. “If we don’t have the equipment, we’ll get the equipment to do it.” STR Alaska also boasts the only SPMT – Self Propelled Module Transporter —the only one in the state. This remote-controlled unit is capable of moving over 300 tons and can turn 360 degrees. Hyce says that it is “a pretty cool piece of equipment.”

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While the company has experienced significant growth since its inception in 2014, it has had a sustained period of success in recent years. This has led to the company growing its fleet, and its portfolio, substantially in this time. This growth includes the addition of 40 trucks, several fuel tankers and the purchase of a fuel logistics company in 2020 which has been integrated into the operation. Alongside this, the company now has three shop facilities in the Fairbanks area.

In possibly its most significant move, Hyce explains that STR Alaska found its “forever home” in 2021, having previously been occupying a rented premises. STR Alaska is now situated on a 13-acre site that includes multiple buildings. Within this context, it is no surprise that the company has taken on a high number of new employees, something that Hyce believes helps support the local community also.

It goes without saying that all of this success and growth could not be achieved without being on a solid footing. STR Alaska will celebrate its tenth anniversary next year, evidence of a company that has consistently been able to offer its clients the highest quality. Hyce attributes this success to two things, employees and customers. “Without our customers, we wouldn’t have anything really and without our employees, nothing would happen.” He goes on to explain that the company started with a desire to ensure quality and control ran through every aspect of the business. “We had a dedication to owning everything we did. Because we were initially so small, we were able to own everything start to finish. Still to this day, when you get a call, you don’t just get customer service, you get the person that knows where the load came from or knows what’s going on. That one person will answer the questions, everything inclusive of that project.”

“STR Alaska will celebrate its tenth anniversary next year, evidence of a company that has consistently been able to offer its clients the highest quality.”

For Hyce, what sets the company apart from its competitors is its outlook. For him, it comes down to an attitude of responsibility and diligence. “We take ownership over each piece of cargo and each shipment as if it’s the only one we’re doing at that time.” sets them apart from everyone else. This is evidenced in the trajectory the company has experienced since the beginning. In 2014, just months after the company was founded, STR Alaska moved its first eighty-tonne module. At the time, only two other companies offered that level of service in the state. For Hyce, this was “a big step for a trucking company in Alaska.” Now however, the company sits at number one as the primary go-to in the state.

This has been achieved through its involvement in many high-profile and successful projects that have evolved and grown from each other. For instance, in 2016, STR Alaska completed its first rig move and now is starting work on a major project. Hyce explained that the project with Conoco Phillips and Santos Oil Search in securing a major development contract on the North Slope is a big deal. “To me, that’s a big milestone – it will be a mark in the book, a good one,” he said.

Success in business does not come without challenges, however. The company’s growth has meant that its need to secure truck drivers has grown exponentially —thirty per cent since January. While Hyce accepts that this is a positive development, the landscape for skilled workers is a challenge. “We’ve been able to grow, but we have always been dedicated to quality over quantity. Compared to 2016 or 2017, the challenge in acquiring good staff seems relatively the same. If we measure off the same baseline, meaning if the volume of cargo or loads that need to move stayed the same, we’d have the same problem – the graph would run parallel,” he explained. However, the volume has now increased five or sixfold, he added, meaning the difficulty to find skilled drivers has increased – especially as a result of the pandemic. One element of its recruitment that adds an additional layer of difficulty is its strict adherence to safety. At STR Alaska, safety is always the priority, and this is not something the team will sacrifice. Hyce explained, “Some companies may not see as much of a struggle in hiring staff as we are, but we are not willing to sacrifice safety and quality for less qualified employees.”

With an outlook of positivity and growth for this year and next, the team at STR Alaska is expecting to double its volume of freight work. Moving beyond this, Hyce also believes that the latest developments in the Prudhoe Bay oilfields of Alaska, mean that there is likely to be an oil boom for a number of years to come. He explained: “We’re going to have more dollars to do things better. Things are only going to get better, we’re not looking at any hard times – if anything, the only hard time we have is figuring out how we’re going to cover the next week without having to tell any clients we are too busy to help them.” With a growing reputation as the number one logistics operator in Alaska and the milestone of a decade in business to come next year, STR Alaska is on the rise and by the looks of things, will continue to be for another decade after this.

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