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Family-Owned Pacific Alaska Freightways Celebrates 50 Years

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, April 26, 2011
Updated: Monday, August 26, 2013


Curtis Dorn

Director of Sales & Marketing
Pacific Alaska Freightways

Fife, WA - Finding a family business surviving from one generation to the other is a rarity, but Pacific Alaska Freightways, formerly Pacific Alaska Forwarders, continues to thrive after 50 years. It all began 1961 when Rex and Dorthy Sears started PAF out of a small warehouse in the SODO district of Seattle, WA. Five years later Joe Smith joined the team to run the company, while spearheading new business resulting in expanding the company to full-service trucking/consolidating operation. Eventually Smith took over and consolidated business from Alaska throughout the Lower 48 making PAF one of Alaska’s premier freight haulers and logistics providers.

PAF began to focus on the Last Frontier and go after the plumbing, construction and electrical distributors. The success resulted in opening its first freight terminal on South Holgate Street in Seattle. Smith expanded his team and provided freight services via the Alaska HydroTrain, Alaska Trainship and SeaLand (now Horizon Lines) to Central, Southeast and Kodiak, Alaska.

With Smith taking on more work he began incorporating his sons into the business by having them clean the warehouse and drive the forklift on weekends. As they grew, the boys started to take interest in the business and became part of the PAF team and modernizing the way the company did business.

As the business began to grow and freight volume increased, PAF collaborated with Sealand and Tote to move cargo directly into the Port of Anchorage from Tacoma, Washington. By the late 1990s, PAF built a larger Washington facility on East Fife, which now houses its corporate offices. They also built new terminals in Anchorage and Fairbanks, while upgraded other terminals and computer systems throughout the state.

"In the transportation business, we just don’t move boxes. We develop solutions and custom-designed programs for clients questioning how to best move their valuable commodities”, Joe Smith said. "PAF has the ability to maintain tight quality controls at every touch point, pickup, line haul and delivery”.

In early 2000, PAF provided a "Midwest Gateway” when they opened a consolidation center in Chicago to more efficiently move freight and reduce handling to Alaska and the Pacific Northwest. Today PAF maintains a network of terminals, hundreds of trucks and containers, an in-house freight management system and full service truckload brokerage with the finest work force in the industry.

"The bottom line is that everyone needs to move their freight safe and secure without incident, we have the experience and know-how at PAF. Several of our team members have over 35 years of dedicated service providing our clients with choices to organize and move their products efficiently and cost-effectively” says PAF CEO Ed Fitzgerald.

About PAF: Pacific Alaska Freightways has been providing freight transportation services to Anchorage, Fairbanks, Kenai, Kodiak & Southeast Alaska business and consumers since 1961. We have gained experience in all modes of transportation to Alaska including steamship, barge, rail, air and over the road. In addition, with established inter-modal, LTL and Truckload Carrier services available in the lower 48 states, we can offer seamless origin to destination services to all our clients throughout Alaska. Visit us at


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