Dave Hocker and his three daughters have all been shaped by careers at Carlile
By Hilary Reeves
Dave Hocker was inducted into Carlile Transportation‘s “Million Mile Club” in 2007. The honor is awarded to drivers who have logged one million miles of safe driving – the equivalent of 40 trips around the Earth without a single fender-bender.
“When I started here, I definitely had a lot of respect for (the company) straight out of the gate,” he said. “But the difference was they also respected me. Them coming up and saying, ‘Hey, man. You’re doing a good job.’ That really made all the difference in the world.”
Hocker has been driving for Carlile, an Alaska shipping company, for 27 years. The bad news? He’s started to contemplate retirement. The good news? Hocker has three daughters – and all three caught the Carlile bug.
“When I was in fifth grade, I went with my dad to work on Take Your Daughter to Work Day and decided that I wanted to run heavy equipment,” said Corryn Hocker, 30.
In 2007, the same year her father logged his millionth safe mile behind the wheel of a Carlile truck, Corryn was offered a job at the company’s Prudhoe Bay Terminal as a Dispatch Assistant. One year later, she started in her current role as an Administrative Assistant. She has been working in Prudhoe Bay for the past eight years.
“When I was first hired, my dad and both of my (older) sisters, Sarah and Miranda, were working for Carlile,” she said. “Currently, my dad, Miranda and I are still part of the company. Sarah worked for Carlile for about 10 years before she became a teacher in the Anchorage School District. She worked at both the Prudhoe Terminal and the Anchorage Terminal. Being able to work with family makes work a better place to be, especially for me, since I work so far from home.”
Corryn’s home outside of Wasilla, Alaska is located just down the road from her childhood home, separated in fact by just 10 acres owned by her grandfather. As close as she is to her family when she’s not working, the two weeks at a time she spends on site in Prudhoe Bay – more than 800 miles away – can be difficult. But Dave Hocker never doubted his daughters’ ability.
“When my oldest daughter first started in Prudhoe, someone asked, ‘Now Dave, you don’t have a problem with her going up there, do you,’ and I said, ‘No, she’s pretty tough.’ They’re tough girls, and they do just fine.”
“I don’t get to see my dad at work but it’s still very nice to work for the same company,” Corryn said. “I’ve been part of the Carlile family since my dad started working here in 1991, so it wasn’t hard for me to find my place and fit in.”
Miranda Hocker, 31, joined the Alaska shipping company in 2006, and also had no trouble fitting in. She started in Prudhoe Bay after her sister Sarah, who was also working for Carlile in Anchorage at the time, alerted her to an administrative opening. She worked there for three years before transferring to the Customer Service Department for a year, and then spending a summer as a pilot car driver for the Heavyhaul Trucking Department.
“I love working with my family,” Miranda said. “When we have conversations about work, we don’t have to go into extra explanations about trucking verbiage. Also, because each one of us works in a different department, we can call each other if we don’t know something or need more information.”
Miranda briefly left Carlile before rejoining the company in the Safety Department, where she worked for two years. Like Corryn, she is now back in Prudhoe Bay as a Dispatcher and Driver Supervisor.
“I am someone who always likes a challenge,” Miranda explained. “I was born a very competitive person. Whether it be against someone, or challenging myself – I love it. Working in the Safety Department for two years was a huge benefit. I have a great deal of knowledge on how this company works, what keeps it going, and how to keep the wheels turning. My biggest challenge with this position is knowing all the equipment we have and knowing the right trailer to use for it. I am learning a lot and I know I still have more to learn but my coworkers are so helpful in teaching me these things and it has helped immensely. I love the people I work with. I couldn’t ask for a better group.”
“What I like most about my job are the people that I get to work with,” she said. “Since the Prudhoe Bay Terminal is a rotation schedule (two weeks on, two weeks off), and you live and work with the same people, they really become your second family. You spend half your year working and living with them, celebrating birthdays and holidays together. It makes working away from home a little better when you’re working with your second family”
All three Hocker girls were born and raised in Wasilla. Dave Hocker was born in Massachusetts, but his parent’s moved to Alaska in 1956, soon after he was born.
“My dad was stationed at Adak during World War II and he just fell in love with the state,” he said, adding that his father worked for the Alaska Railroad for more than two decades and his mother worked for the City of Anchorage. He graduated from high school in Anchorage – as did his wife, Sue, two years later, though the pair didn’t know each other then.
“We got married nine months after we met, in 1978,” he laughed.
“I know a lot of kids say this about their parents, but I have the greatest parents in the world,” Miranda shared. “I was blessed with the best. I try to talk to (my dad) every day. He gives the best hugs, and I just enjoy spending time with him when I can. My dad made up songs for each one of us girls when we were little, and he still sings them to us now, as well as new songs for his two grandkids. My parents have been married for almost 38 years now, and they are still very madly in love and it shows every day.”
Though Dave Hocker used to crisscross the state, he wanted to spend more time with his family, and in recent years has settled into a route that takes him on daily drives between Wasilla and Anchorage. He drives his truck straight up to his home every evening.
“It got to be so that I’d get home and I’d be like, ‘Who are these people,'” he said, jokingly, of the long hours he logged early in his career. “That said, I’m very proud of all my girls. And I’m proud they work for a company like Carlile.”
Both Miranda and Corryn have fond memories of their childhood.
“Carlile has been a part of my life since I was five years old,” said Miranda. “I remember getting excited hearing my dad’s truck coming down the road. The blue Carlile trucks remind me of home.”
“My parents were my greatest influence when I was growing up,” echoed Corryn. “They taught me to work hard for what I wanted, and to never give up on my goals and dreams.”
Miranda is looking forward to a big wedding this July where she will be joined by many of her Carlile family to celebrate. She and her soon to be husband, Darryl Rust, look forward to buying property in Wasilla near her parents and building a house. She said the main thing about being a woman in a predominately male profession is that you have to earn respect – but that’s true in any position.
“The guys here help me out, as I do them,” she said. “They don’t treat me any differently than they would a male coworker.”
And while Dave Hocker looks forward to a relaxing retirement on the homefront, Corryn looks to places far-flung.
“Two events that I don’t miss are Arctic Man in Paxson, Alaska, and the Sturgis Bike Rally, in Sturgis, South Dakota,” said Corryn. “I believe that you only live once so you better make it worth it.”
“It was hard for us, as a family, to see the company we grew up with and then became a working part of sell,” Miranda concluded. “Even though we’re a part of Saltchuk now, I still see a lot of the old Carlile, and I’m excited to see the new directions Saltchuk will be taking the company. Embracing (the change) is easy now, but now we have to show it and help grow it.”