Remembering Garrett: Garrett Freight Lines would have been 100 this yearJul 11th, 2013 | By vgrieve | Category: Transportation
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.
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.
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.