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Linda Holmes joined Delta Western eight years ago.

Delta Western Dispatcher Linda Holmes always thought she’d become a professional landscaper serving the small Puget Sound communities she knew so well, growing up near Seattle. A 2001 commercial fishing season in Sitka, Alaska, changed her mind.

“I fell in love with the town and decided to stay awhile and build a family.”

Holmes grew up outside of Bremerton, Washington, with her mother and two older sisters. She attended high school in nearby Silverdale until the family moved south to Port Orchard during her junior year.

“The new school was overwhelming. It was big. I didn’t know anyone, and I felt completely out of place. I spent my time writing columns for the school newspaper, and I thought I wanted to be a journalist, but I wasn’t pushy or aggressive enough. I loved listening to people’s stories, but I didn’t like insisting that they tell them.”

She fell in love with gardening and horticulture after her mother began hiring Holmes out to work in her coworkers’ yards.

“I loved the feeling of growing and creating something from the ground up.”

She also worked in customer service, most notably at an auto parts store where she met her partner, Travis. A side job for a landscaping company in Port Ludlow, Washington, soon turned into a full-time job.

“Although I don’t do landscaping professionally anymore – except in my own garden at home – that job helped me recognize the joy that comes with watching things, and myself, grow.

Holmes and her family pose on the beach.

Growing things

After Holmes and her partner moved to Sitka in 2001, the couple was blessed with two boys, and she spent the next eight years at home.

“Once they were in school full-time, I decided to go back to work. A friend told me about a position at a fuel dock that was just opening up. I thought I’d just go and apply – it was a whirlwind. Delta Western had just purchased the Sitka site, and they were still putting everything together here.”

Holmes joined Delta Western as a receptionist and dispatcher eight years ago.

“I loved the challenge, and it felt great to be part of a growing company. We were all working to figure out what worked for us and what didn’t.”

She said what she loves about her job are the people and the constantly changing environment.

“Helping out with the Ketchikan site has been my biggest challenge. For 10 months, I was processing all the daily paperwork because they didn’t have an office or any office personnel. I was able to get them started – remotely, from Sitka – while also still working on my daily tasks.

Holmes and her family pose for a photo at home.

No hesitation

 Holmes credits her partner Travis, her “biggest supporter,” with encouraging her to go back to work and said their boys, Tucker, 16, and Carter, 12, are what she’s most proud of.

“I’ve tried to teach them the value of hard work so they can succeed in life.”

She said she sometimes wishes she had asked more questions.

“Not everything works for everyone. I’d have asked more questions about why things are the way they are and how we can change them to better fit each person’s needs.”

While she’d love to open a nursery or landscaping company someday, for now, she’s sticking with Delta Western.

“No matter where I go within the company, I feel welcome. We joke around with each other a lot. One of my favorite stories is when I made a trip to Yakutat to help out in the office there. I flew out from Sitka spent four days. Jon Jensen dropped me back off at the airport to check in to fly home. While I was checking in, the agent kept looking at me strangely. She finally asked, “Do you need assistance?” I declined, and she asked if I was sure. She finally told me that on my itinerary, it said I was disabled and needed a wheelchair, and couldn’t speak English. Every person in the terminal looked at me, awaiting my reply. And at that moment, I realized Mike Johnson (Sitka Terminal Manager) had booked my ticket. Everyone in the terminal had a good laugh. We make a great team. It has always been about teamwork with our site. There is never a dull moment working here.”

The one takeaway she holds close to her heart: change is inevitable.

“I’m not sure what will change here at Delta Western in the next few years, but it’s always good to see a company that’s not hesitant about moving forward.”

For more stories on Saltchuk employees in Alaska, click here.

Hilary Reeves

Hilary Reeves spent 10 years as a newspaper reporter and editor before joining the Saltchuk family of companies as a consultant. Since People of Saltchuk launched in 2014, Reeves has interviewed more than 200 Saltchuk employees from operating companies all over the world. Born in Tacoma, Washington, Reeves is a former president of both the collegiate and local professional chapters of the Society of Professional Journalists, a graduate of the Society’s Ted Scripps Leadership Institute, and a Toastmaster. When she’s not writing, she loves to read, ski, and practice the piano. She lives in West Seattle with her husband and two young daughters.