Our History

The history of the Lynden family of companies is also the history of Lynden patriarch Henry “Hank” Jansen and his desire to expand a small delivery company called Lynden Transfer into something bigger.

Just how big the company would grow would surprise most people – even Hank Jansen.

Jansen moved to Lynden, WA with his family in 1927. He started working at local dairy farms as a teenager and admittedly hated it. Cows and manure were not for him. The first chance he got, he jumped into the cab of a truck and assumed the position of delivery boy for his father’s nursery. “I would’ve driven a truck for nothing at that point,” he said.

Lynden patriarch Henry ”Hank“ Jansen
Lynden patriarch Henry ”Hank“ Jansen
Old photo of Lynden truck on Alcan
Old photo of Lynden truck navigating Alcan Highway
Lynden Transfer trucks navigate the treacherous Alcan Highway during some of the historic first runs up to Alaska and back.

In 1938 he bought his own rig and started hauling coal for customers around Whatcom County, WA. Ten years later, he went in with two partners and purchased a small two-truck company called Lynden Transfer. The route was Lynden, WA to Seattle for dairy deliveries and picking up general freight in Seattle to haul back to Lynden.

“It was a pretty good little business,” Jansen says, “but I wanted to expand.” He saw expanding service north – all the way to Alaska – as the best chance for real growth. His colleagues were skeptical and told him so. In the early 1950s, some saw the Alaska-Canada (Alcan) Highway as an impossible obstacle for truck delivery. “I had a pile of letters from friends in the trucking business who said if you get on that run no one will survive that highway.”

But Jansen pressed on, scouting the route in 1953 and lining up customers for the first load. The next year, the first Lynden Transfer Kenworth left Seattle with a load of fresh meat destined for Carrs Market in Fairbanks. Drivers Oscar Roosma and Glen Kok teamed up for the grueling trip and delivered the side of beef in perfect condition. The butcher at the market handled the beef like a newborn baby, then carefully put it in the bed of his pickup and drove it to Anchorage daring people to gaze upon “What just came up across the highway.”

As Jansen recalls, that first trip was the important one; after that it was just a matter of adding trucks. For Alaska residents that initial truck delivery ushered in a whole new world of fresh produce, milk and meat. And it made Lynden a household name in Alaska.

Faster than barge and cheaper than air, Lynden Transfer began to carve out a niche in Alaska. Jansen and his drivers knew that delivering great service was all they had to sell. And deliver they did. They were a hearty and courageous group who often found themselves battling the harsh Alaska environment with frozen equipment and frozen fingers. Many years later, those early drivers are fondly known as Lynden Legends and Everyday Heroes within the company. “Some of those old-timers would’ve packed that stuff in the last 20 miles on their backs if they had to,” Jansen said. “That’s what it’s all about: good employees.” Attracting and retaining good employees is a hallmark of the Lynden companies, but so is strong leadership. As the head of the company, Jansen demonstrated what would become the Lynden core values of putting the customer first, working hard to offer a quality product and having some fun on the job.

Old photos of Lynden employees on the Alcan Highway
Drivers and mechanics were the heart and soul of early Lynden that overcame the extreme challenges of the Alcan Highway.

From pioneering the first scheduled truck delivery to Alaska, Lynden’s business continued to grow with transportation and logistics work for the Alaska Pipeline and later, to include projects all over the world. Throughout it all, the company strategy was pretty basic. In Jansen’s words: If there is a need for something, fill the gap; take the impossible and make it possible.

Today, Lynden Transfer has grown from a two-stop, two-truck operation to Lynden Inc., a multi-modal transportation organization providing air freight, trucking, ocean freight and logistics services to clients worldwide. The Lynden family of companies still operates under Jansen’s original philosophy: Put the customer first, work hard, deliver quality, be the best and have fun doing it.

 

History Timeline

1906 Lynden History
1926 Lynden History
1940 Lynden History
1947 Lynden History
1948 Lynden History
1954 Lynden History
1964 Lynden History
1967 Lynden History
1970 Lynden History
1974 Lynden History
1975 Lynden History
1977 Lynden History
1978 Lynden History
1979 Lynden History
1980 Lynden History
1981 Lynden History
1982 Lynden History
1985 Lynden History
1989 Lynden History
1992 Lynden History
1996 Lynden History
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2001 Lynden History
2004 Lynden History
2006 Lynden History
2008 Lynden History
2013 Lynden History
2014 Lynden History