Remembering Garrett: Garrett Freight Lines would have been 100 this year

Jul 11th, 2013 | By | Category: Transportation
BANNOCK COUNTY HISTORICAL SOCIETY    A typical Garrett long haul rig. Portneuf Gap is in the background.

BANNOCK COUNTY HISTORICAL SOCIETY
A typical Garrett long haul rig. Portneuf Gap is in the background.

BY BILL RYAN
For the Journal

Abusiness Pocatellans pointed to with pride, Garrett Freight Lines, would have been 100 years old this month — if it had lived. Garrett was a gigantic operation that had grown steadily through the years until it became the victim of an even larger predator.

 

Clarence Garrett, his brother, Oscar, and a cousin arrived in Pocatello from Virginia in the early 1900s. After a try in the grocery business, they bought a small truck in 1913 to cash in on the hauling and baggage business in this railroad town. Horse drawn wagons carried most of the local freight. A truck was a rare sight. By 1915, the Garretts were trucking freight as far as American Falls and Blackfoot.

 

The business slowly but steadily expanded to include Idaho Falls in 1920, Twin Falls-Burley Area by 1927, Salt Lake City was Garrett’s first out of state terminal in 1928 followed by Butte, Mont., in 1930. The company reached a milestone with routes to Los Angeles in 1934. By the early 1960s new routers were established in the San Francisco-Oakland area. Denver and New Mexico points were added in the company’s expansion.

 

New Terminals were added as Garrett bought previously established transport companies in Spokane, Seattle, Great Falls, and Los Angeles. Holdings included 67 terminals throughout the west and 3,500 trucks to serve the needs of industry.

 

Pocatello took pride in being the home of Garrett Freight Lines. Other areas may have been more central to the company’s operations, but headquarters remained here. Garrett had outgrown its South First location years before 1951, when it built a new $850,000 terminal-repair facility and headquarters on the highway known as “Garrett Way.” By this time. Garrett was one of Pocatello’s major employers.

 

Garrett’s advertising was a big part of building the company. Appearing in an ad for Firestone tires and other ads was a character named Mr. G. Slogans were catchy and memorable such as “Look before you Leap, Look to Garrett.” “We Do Care” is seen all over the reports, memorabilia and notepads used by Garrett employees and clients. Clarence A. Garrett was named “Idaho Business Leader of the Year” and received an award in 1961 in Boise.

 

ISJ FILE /KEN GOUDY    The original Garrett terminal on South First.

ISJ FILE /KEN GOUDY
The original Garrett terminal on South First.

A company as cash-rich and prosperous as Garrett was the target of larger firms eager to acquire this handsome property. But CEO Clarence Garrett always managed to fight them off. After he died at age 77 in 1967, his widow, Dorothy, hired a Pocatello attorney to try to safeguard the company from predators. He set up a voting trust into which the Garrett stockholders placed their assets. This trust, lasting 10 years, withstood legal challenges and kept the company operating under the guidance of Larry Allsberry. He followed Clarence Garrett’s credo of keeping the business growing and maintaining headquarters in Pocatello.

 

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With their assets free of the trust, after 10 years, some of Garrett’s stockholders began listening more closely to the bids made by suitors seeking the routes and the terminals that Garrett had pioneered through the years. Enough Garrett stockholders, most living outside Pocatello, accepted another trucking company’s rich offer. This spelled Garrett’s doom. Allsberry notified employees of Garrett’s merger with American Natural Resources, or ANR, on Oct. 16, 1978.

 

The owners of ANR were anxious to build a nationwide empire. ANR acquired all of Garrett’s holdings plus those of three other firms to make it one of the nation’s largest trucking companies. The familiar green and yellow Garrett trucks were repainted in ANR colors. Denverbased ANR eventually saw no need for the Garrett’s Pocatello facilities. What had been one of the city’s major employers was no more.

 

Those who remember Garrett Freight Lines recall a great company to work for with a lasting tradition of employee loyalty. Some still like to get together occasionally and raise a glass in salute to the noble Garrett Freight Lines.

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25 Comments to “Remembering Garrett: Garrett Freight Lines would have been 100 this year”

  1. Jon Dunn says:

    I worked at Garrett Freightlines at their Emeryville CA terminal. It was the best trucking company to work for.

    • Jon Dunn says:

      Forgot to ad, August 1966 through July 1978.

    • David Teel says:

      Jon, I just wonder if you remember my father Marvin Teel who drove out of Emeryville for 25 years.

      Thanks,

      David Teel

    • Summer Rae says:

      16 Students at Idaho State University recently created a book on Garrett Freightlines. They researched the business practices and personalities that shaped Garrett Freightlines – once a national freight carrier and major Pocatello employer.

      Clarence Garrett founded the company in 1913 as a service to pick up freight from the Union Pacific Railroad and deliver it to customers around Pocatello and surrounding areas.

      The company’s story includes attempted hostile takeover bids, negotiations with Teamsters leader Jimmy Hoffa, and the introduction of several innovations to the trucking industry, including the use of diesel engines, long-haul refrigeration and triple trailers.

      By purchasing this book you will take a walk down memory lane while supporting Idaho State University. All proceeds will go towards scholarships.

      By following the link you can purchase the book. While filling out your information on the second page be sure to select Team Teal and Summer Megargee from the drop box in the sales representative section.

      https://commerce.cashnet.com/isugarrettfreights

      Feel free to recommend the book to anyone who would appreciate the history. Thank you so much for your time and enjoy!

  2. Jim Folk says:

    Worked for Garrett in Wallace Idaho along with Leonard Olson from 1961 till layed off when the Bunker Hill and deregulation spelled the demise of regulated carriers there

  3. Roy Childs says:

    My grandfather, Paul Elmer Myers, drove for Garrett since WWII ended. He had ths route from Salt Lake City to San Francisco to Los Angeles. He loved driving for Garrett, and his wife, Verna, would accompany him at times. I loved listening to his stories of his hauls.

  4. David Teel says:

    My father, Marvin, worked for Garrett driving from Emeryville to Reno until the freeway was completed over the Donner summit.. Then they extended his three time a week run to Winnemucca. He drove for Garrett almost 25 years from the mid 1950s until his retirement in 1980. He always referred to the owner as “old man Garrett” but had great respect for this man who often came out to Emeryville to personally award him his safe driving awards. I still have many of these safety awards that were actually pins that my dad would proudly wear on his hat when he drove.

  5. Ian Garrett says:

    Hello,
    I am trying to find iformation on my Biological Grandfather, Leroy Melvin Garrett, who I believe was adopted by Oscar Garrett, he may have been the son of the cousin of Oscar. Any information would be great. My name is Ian Garrett

  6. Wayne Cooke says:

    I came across this while looking for a bit of information on Garrett. I drove long haul for ‘Circle G’ out of Portland from June 1975 to July 1977. The last year and a half I ran sleeper from Portland to Sacramento, Emeryville, Reno, LA and Anahiem with Les McKinney. I really enjoyed working for the company. They really cared for their employees. I am glad though that I left before ANR bought them out. I remember fondly the possitive comments about “Ma Garrett”. I left only because I wanted to be home more, especially on Sundays. In one stretch that lasted just over a year, I wasn’t home a single Sunday, except one I took off for a family occasion. I just had to be home with my wife and daughter. Thanks for the memories and adding to my knowledge about Garrett Freightlines.

  7. Lance says:

    My grandfather, Warren Sitton drove for many years out of Pocatello and always spoke fondly of Garretts. I recall my grandmother and grandfather painted a truck to look like a garretts truck. I have such fond memories of garretts which to me is truly America. The hard working employees who wore white button up shirts that we’re pressed. That is an era long gone and I get misty at times remembering it.

    • Mike Hoenes says:

      Hi Lance. I dispatched Warren for over 10 years, back in the 70’s, out of Pocatello. His bid run at that time was Pocatello to Missoula, MT. Warren was a wonderful employee and superb driver!!! We were very lucky to have him on our team!!

  8. Alex Bolinger says:

    Beginning at the end of this August (2015), a class of honors students at Idaho State University will be writing a booklet about the history of Garrett Freightlines. We are looking for photos, pictures of memorabilia, and any information that you might have about Garrett Freightlines for our research. Also, we are finding former Garretts employees who might be interested in sharing some of their memories and experiences with our students. If you have any photos, information, or interest in learning more about this project, please contact me at boliale2@isu.edu or (208) 282-6242.

  9. BARB BERRY-FOX says:

    My father was truck driver for Garrett from the 40’s – until 1962. His name was Bill Berry

  10. JOHN HOWELL says:

    I drove for Garrett out of Seattle WA, Before that I ran the Alcan Hwy– north slope for Weaver Bros. Inc. !974. Driving for a long time before the freeway to the north slope as you see on ice road truckers of todays broadcast. A 400 Cummins and 4×4. As you watch the ice road truckers now watch the trailer wheels lockup as they slide the trailer to make the road look slick just for show. Once the temp gets down 0 or lower it is good trucking however you need to be on alert at all times. CDL CURRENT FROM 1970 (GIMPY)

    • JOHN HOWELL says:

      Howdy Gimpy here again,
      Garrett, United Buckingham,UB. Pie & Freightways. C.F. Trans Con. Time D C. Miller & Brown. Inland motor freight. Silver Eagle and Silver Wheels Roadway and many more, across this great land jobs sold to the highest bidder there all gone. G.W. Bush and Clinton were no friends of labor their ideas deregulation of the industry opened the door for SONS OF THE DESSERT Camel hump trucking.
      Ashes to Ashes and Dust to Dust they sold out our jobs and forgot about us. For the new to the trucking industry best of luck. Watch out for the road and driver camera smile.

      • JOHN HOWELL says:

        Hello again,
        By the way there really was 3 owner operators from B C Canada that least to the company I did. They took their company name from the laurel and hardy movies Sons of the dessert because the drivers from India. I think had a little play on words. They were fast drivers and they didn’t slow down much.

  11. Garry Brown says:

    I worked for Garrett from may 15/1955 until they closed us down in may of 1992. (35 years) I worked local for six years then I went on the line. Garrett was a good co. to work for the pay was good. We drove mostly the 13 western states. It was mostly a sleeper operation out of Salt Lake City where I was based. In the 70;s they added a run to St. Paul Minnesota. I made that run for 12 years. I enjoyed my job I and my wife June raised four wonderful children. It’s good to read the comments of other coworkers from around the company.
    Thanks
    Garry Brown

    • Susan says:

      Hi Garry,
      Just wondering if you knew Loren Broadhead. He is my father. Just wondering if you can tell me any stories of him? He has been gone now for 16 years and I’m always missing him. Just would like to here new stories about him.

      Thanks!

  12. […] Bill Ryan, “Remembering Garrett: Garrett Freight Lines would have been 100 this year,” Southeast Idaho Business Journal, July 11, […]

  13. Bill Sahlberg says:

    My grandfather, Carl Sahlberg was Garrett’s 1st driver and later a terminal mgr and retired on the BOD.
    He passed away in 1973 but told me stories about driving from just Pocatello to Twin Falls and only getting a dozen flat tires each way. If you have any info or pix please send them to me at billsahlberg@hotmail.com

  14. Thanks so much to Bill Ryan for writing this article! A cousin sent me the link. Just thinking that Garrett Freightlines would have been 100 this year — and that somebody remembered — warms my heart, as I grew up surrounded by the Garrett Freightlines company! It was one of Pocatello’s finest companies. My father Norman Stedtfeld was a longtime officer of the company and he was always very proud to work with the Garrett brothers and the others, growing it from a small company into a very large company whose trucks carried freight across the entire West. The names of Bill Wilson, Ray Hendricks, Carl Sahlberg, were all familiar to me. I never met the drivers mentioned above, but without those redoutable “knights of the highway” the company would never have prospered so much and been such a good shepherd to its employees. Thank you to all who contributed to making Garrett Freightlines such a distinguished enterprise. And, again, thank you for remembering!

  15. John Howell says:

    I have been retired all most a year. Just sort of 50 years by 3 months. No more TRIPPLES NO MORE 3 RAILERS. I really don’t miss any of it. Be safe out there. Gimpy

  16. John Howell says:

    Howdy Garrett
    UB. PIIE C.F ROADWAY. TIME DC, Trans Con drivers family. By now it is grand kids and great grand kids. the best of my life is long gone and not many of us are left. By now it is just of a memory for me the lower 48 all thru Canada BC YK to Alaska and Liven good, dead man, PRUDO bay In our day was the best of the best. The stuff you see todays drivers is a peace of cake. Yes their are more people on the road. But the equipment and cars are more advanced with computers driver cams law enforcement available road surface. The Hammer and sickle drivers would not even slow down for their own family RUN RIGHT OVER THEM THE BIGEST MISTAKE REAGAN MADE IS WHEN REAGAN SAID TEAR DOWN THAT WALL!!! THE RUSSIANS ARE COMING.THE REST IS HISTORY.

  17. David Thompson says:

    Hey Garrett,
    My dad started in trucking with Thompson Transfer in Spokane, WA. Was run out of town by the union in 1939, drove in Colorado for Bekins and Allied until WWII. Returned to Spokane and joined the union.. Finished much of his life driving for John Manlowe – Manlowe Trucking – Manlowe United, U/Buckingham and Ringsby United. My Aunt Helen Thompson worked at Garrett in Spokane from it’s beginning until the 60’s. Until, I assume it was when it was sold. I wrote a book concerning my dads original business and all of the companies he drove for. I have cap pieces from Caters, Consolidated, Spokane Pacific Lines., Manlowe United. I also have patches from U/Buckingham and Ringsby. The beginning of the end.

    I think I hold the record of being the youngest student driver at Manlowe’s. In those days you could take your kids on the road with you. As I recall I was about 8 yrs. My last ride with him was on leave from the Navy during the Korean Conflict.In all honesty, Today over the road is different. I for one miss the times of coffee stops flashing lights, and courteous drivers. I for one miss those days. Dave

  18. David Thompson says:

    I forgot to ask….. Do any of the old timers remember the “Truck Rodeo’s” of the 40’s and 50’s? I always marveled at the driving abilities of those guys, keeping the little balls on a tee between their duals as the drove around the course. I miss those too.

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