Spokane Journal of Business

Container hauler buys West Plains property

Zip Truck Lines owner to open satellite facility

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John Wright, who owns companies in Moses Lake and Ellensburg, Wash., that haul ocean containers, has bought 10 acres of industrial-zoned land in Airway Heights and says he plans to open a satellite container yard and loading facility there.  

Wright says he paid $400,000 for the property at 11705 W. 21st in Airway Heights, where Seattle-based Puget Sound Truck Lines Inc. had operated years ago, and has begun restoring a small office structure there. He says he plans to begin full operations there shortly after completing some other relatively minor site improvements, including installing a fuel tank and an electric gate, repairing some fencing, and bringing in a big container-handling forklift.

Wright owns Zip Truck Lines Inc., which operates on a 38-acre site in Moses Lake, and American Container Transport Inc., which operates on a 6-acre site in Ellensburg. He says the two companies together employ the equivalent of about 100 people, counting roughly 80 company-employed drivers and independent owner-operators. Its fleets have about 80 container-transport trucks, and the Airway Heights facility will serve both companies. 

Zip Line has a number of customers here as well as in outlying areas such as northeast Washington, North Idaho, and Montana, Wright says, adding, “We felt that we could serve them better out of Spokane than Moses Lake due to the hours of service for our drivers. It will give us more flexibility.”

The operation here will start out small, with just a few employees initially, but Wright says, “We’re pretty positive it’s going to be a good move. We’ll probably see quite a bit of growth in the next year.”

Wright co-founded Zip Truck Lines in 1972 with his father, Claude Wright, and father-in-law, Mose Ghenier. Wright says he bought out his father-in-law’s interest in the business a year after it had opened and his father’s interest in 1980. However, a number of Wright’s family members now work in the businesses.

In its early years, Zip Truck Lines delivered building supplies and equipment to construction project sites all over the Columbia Basin, and in the 1980s, it began servicing the agricultural industry by hauling container freight to the shipping ports in Seattle and Tacoma, its website says.

In 1985, Wright says he developed what’s called a super chassis, a sub-framed trailer that could stretch to accommodate heavier loads. That chassis has helped save customers a lot of money, he asserts, because it enabled customers to maximize the amount of freight that could be hauled in containers, since companies that operate freight-hauling ships charge per container rather than by a container’s weight.

Pete Thompson, of Stonemark Real Estate Co., represented Wright in the West Plains property purchase, and a West Side company represented the seller.

Kim Crompton
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