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Tacoma shop manager and Montana native Jake Jacobson joined the company in Alaska.

By Hilary Reeves

Jake Jacobson has managed Carlile Transportation’s Tacoma, Washington, terminal since 2006.

He grew up in Butte, Montana in the ’60s.

“Butte was a very busy place,” he explained. “There were a lot of mines going, and the Berkeley pit was digging like crazy.”

Jake leans on a rail in a Carlile orange reflective vest and worn Carlile cap.The Berkeley pit, a former open-pit copper mine owned and operated then by Anaconda Copper, was a major area employer. Jacobson’s father worked as a geological assayer for Anaconda, but his mother worked for Northern Pacific Transport and Northern Pacific Railroad, now part of Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF).

“Of course, we did a lot of outdoor activities, like hunting, fishing, and camping,” he said. “I had an uncle who was my mentor and idol. He was like my older brother. In 1964, he joined the Marines. I had a chance to visit with him while he was stationed at Camp Pendleton, and that was the moment I decided I wanted to be like him. A Marine. He was also a good, honest, hardworking, and fun-loving man – other attributes that I aspired to emulate, and still do. After the Marines, he returned to Butte and drove for Intermountain Bus Lines until he retired.

A rich childhood full of outdoor adventure led Jacobson to what he perceived to be the ultimate adventure: he joined the Air Force straight out of high school as an aircraft firefighter.

“My folks wanted me to do something other than working in a mine,” he said. “Not being the scholarly type, I wanted to enlist. Because my mom worried about me joining the Marines, I went with the Air Force.

“One day, about six months after I joined, our shift was on duty and we got a call. There was an aircraft inbound not able to lower the landing gear. This wasn’t the first time this situation had come up, so I thought it kind of peculiar that all of the personnel on the tarmac were leaving and at a rapid pace. As our crew got into position on the runway I found out the plane coming in was a B-52 loaded with nukes, and we were just there waiting for it to hit the ground. And my mom was worried about me in the Marine Corp,” he laughed. “I didn’t tell her.”

By 1973, Jacobson was stationed on Elmendorf Air Force Base in Anchorage.

“When I was discharged in 1974, Alaska became my home for the next 31 years,” he said. “The pipeline was ramping up when I got out. I was on my own, and there was a lot of work to be had. There were several jobs before I started working at a trucking company in 1983. At that company, I worked in the warehouse, dispatched, and was a line driver. During that time I became an owner operator working for this company. At the end of 1986 that company was having financial difficulties and I quit working for them.”

Jake cheerily smiles at the camera in a Carlile orange reflective vest and worn Carlile cap.In the months that followed, Jacobson was looking for work.

“April came around, and one of the guys who had worked at the same company called and asked if I was still looking for a job,” he said. “I went to check it out. The job was part-time, working at night spotting loads around Anchorage and the Matanuska Valley. That was my beginning at  Carlile.”

In 2004, while working as a dispatcher, Jacobson and his wife Tammy decided to move to Washington State. He transferred, and was asked to take on the company’s shop in Tacoma two years later. The couple have four daughters: Virginia, who teaches English to kindergarten children in Italy; Brandy, who works at the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard in the paint shop; Kacie, who works training horses; and Jessica, who is a department manager at a Lowe’s store. The couple are also grandparents to five: fours boys and one girl.

“Every day at work presents new challenges to provide safe, reliable equipment for use in our business,” he concluded. “I’m thankful for the opportunities and support Carlile founder John McDonald has given me over the years. My crew has done an outstanding job of providing that equipment in a timely manner so our customers’ needs are met. Carlile’s dedicated employees make the company what it is.”