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Lisa Marquiss: ‘You quickly get a strong idea of what these men and women are made of.’

By Hilary Reeves

Lisa Marquiss, Carlile Transportation‘s Corporate Director of Safety and Compliance, started with the company in June of 1988. She was 23 years old.

“I actually grew up in Michigan – my dad worked for General Motors and my mom was a Registered Nurse. They were both accomplished in their own right and great examples of a strong work ethic.”

Marquiss moved to Alaska before her senior year of high school after her mother was offered a job at Anchorage’s Providence Hospital.

“At one point, I thought I wanted to be a nurse and went to work at Providence before committing to the nursing program at (the University of Alaska),” she said. “It was a great experience – but it really dialed in for me that I didn’t really want to be a nurse.”

Instead, Marquiss studied business and worked at Alaska USA Federal Credit Union before joining Carlile. She processed transactions via telex machine from three remote locations: Shemya and Adak, Alaska, and from a branch in the Philippines.

“Technology has come so far,” she laughed.

A custom-designed training program

 Marquiss started her career at Carlile, an Alaska shipping company, in Human Resources back when the company was a small, family-owned business that seemed to double in size each year.

“I met every new employee so I knew everyone’s name – that’s currently a lot tougher feat,” she said. “It was a small company, so my job evolved into general office support, providing quotes to customers, and working on large-bid projects.  There was one computer that was used for accounting.  It had “Word Perfect” loaded on it, and I was happy they would share it with me for large projects – a typewriter was so inefficient!”

Several years into Marquiss’s tenure, Carlile began offering hazmat shipping While most companies shipped flammable and corrosive substances, such as paint and batteries, Carlile offered the shipment of all hazard classes.

“They sent me to Department of Transportation (DOT) hazardous materials (hazmat) school in Oklahoma,” she said. “I was already ahead of the group because Carlile shipped all hazardous classes and hazardous waste, and we did it multimodally – through more than one means of transportation. When I got back, I started building all the components of a strong hazmat program. I custom-designed a training program and made it easy for employees to understand the complicated regulations. We continually build on enhancing all aspects of this program today.”

Marquiss’s job has over the years expanded to include Safety and Compliance.

“If you want to work at Carlile, you have to work safe.”

“We worked hard to make our systems and programs electronic and defensible, including  DOT Compliance, Hazmat, Hazwaste, Security, Driver Training, Environmental, and all aspects of Safety. The safety piece started for me about the time we joined the Saltchuk family of companies. We tactically rebuilt the foundational elements. If you want to work at Carlile, you have to work safe.”

Showing up in force

 Marquiss is most proud of her family. Her husband worked for Carlile as a line driver and in the shop as a welder/fabricator.

“My husband is an amazing welder and we have a small company designing and fabricating various items, such as freight sleds, trail groomers, Bobcat attachments, and, on the other end of the spectrum, metal art. When I retire I’ll help expand and market that business. We’re building a house on the Kenai Peninsula and we’ll retire there.”

She said her six children grew up at Carlile and learned the value of teamwork. Several worked at the company – one still works in Fleet Maintenance. Another worked for Carlile’s sister company, Delta Western. Four of the six have occupations directly related to the trucking industry.

“There is always something going on with my family. We do a lot of ocean fishing and camping in the summer. We’re building a cabin this summer so that will be a fun undertaking. I like to shoot sporting clays. My sons are my shooting partners and many of my co-workers have invested in nice shotguns – we show up in force wearing Carlile shooting vests.”

Team pride

Marquiss said she’s also proud of her team.

“They are strong team members who design and maintain some of the most complicated programs at Carlile,” she said. “I think strong leadership will continue to grow Carlile’s safety culture and foundational strengths. Our president, Terry Howard, has truly brought the leadership together.”

When she reflects on her career, Marquiss said she’s surprised at how fast it’s moved along.

“It’s hard to believe it’s been more than 30 years. We’ve grown and evolved and had a positive impact on employees and the community. Carlile was very small when I started, but every day was a new adventure. The jobs the employees perform are serious and at times dangerous. You quickly get a strong idea of what these men and women are made of. There have been very few days in more than 30 years that I didn’t enjoy coming to work.”

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.