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Vt. Trucking Firm Stays in Business for the Long Haul

Fri November 03, 2006 - Northeast Edition
Kate Zanoni

Barrett Trucking Company Inc., currently owned and operated by George, John and James Barrett in Burlington, Vt., was founded by their father, Ulderic “Frenchy” Barrett in 1936 as Barrett Coal & Ice Company. As the company continues to change hands from one generation to the next, its service remains steadfast throughout the Green Mountain State.

Barrett Trucking Company was the last company to cut ice for refrigeration from Lake Champlain in 1963. With modern refrigeration eliminating the ice market and more and more homeowners switching to alternative heating sources other than coal, in 1964 Frenchy started to diversify the company by purchasing a fleet of dump trucks to haul material around central and northern Vermont.

In 1969, Frenchy had moved the company into the salt distribution business, which is still an important part of Barrett Trucking Company today. Its salt stock piling facilities are located in Burlington, Rutland, White River Junction, Rockingham and Fairlee, Vt., as well as a facility in Stark, N.H.. It has more than 125,000 tons of salt stored under cover and supplies more than 300 municipalities throughout Vermont and New Hampshire.

Barrett Trucking has a long-standing relationship with most of the municipalities in Vermont. The company has a reputation for delivering products that have been stored under cover and a reputation for reliable service — even during snow and ice emergencies.

In fact, in 1998 when northern New York experienced a severe ice storm, the Grand Island Ferry was opened just for Barrett Trucking to bring dozens of truckloads of salt across Lake Champlain to distressed townships in New York State.

Moving Up, Hauling Out

George, John and James purchased the company from their father in 1973 and continued to diversify the business. One of the areas that the company moved into was equipment hauling.

According to George Barrett, “When we first made the decision to purchase trailers for equipment hauling we were very skeptical. One of the principals that Frenchy had preached to us over the years was to never spend money unless you could get one-and-a-half times its value back in a day. When we purchased our first lowboy from Russell Dimmick at Lucky’s Trailer Sales, it was primarily to move our loaders back and forth to our various salt facilities and we also had in mind putting the trailer out for hire. That first trailer was a used Landoll.”

That first purchase worked out well for Barrett Trucking. Equipment hauling now represents more than 20 percent of the company’s revenue. Today Barrett’s fleet includes 16 tractors, a dozen low-beds and flat decks as well as several tri-axle dumps, dump trailers and lowboys for moving bulk commodities.

Barrett Trucking hauls equipment for many of northern New England’s equipment distributors, including Milton CAT, Nortrax, Beauregard Equipment, and Woods CRW.

Additionally, Barrett Trucking hauls equipment for contractors and utility companies across northern New England. The company has represented large contractors such as Engineers Construction, Pizzagalli Construction and Whitcomb Construction.

It is willing to deliver equipment across the country. Past deliveries include the Port of Miami, Louisiana, and as far west as Oklahoma.

Specialized Hauls

Barrett Trucking also has honed its skills in specialized hauls including oversized excavators and cranes. Included in its trailer fleet is a Talbert trailer purchased from Lucky’s Trailer Sales, which has been used for transporting transformers for the local electric company.

Barrett Trucking has a 24-hour, 7-days a week stand-by contract with Velco, the Vermont Electrical Cooperative, and also regularly makes deliveries for the local rental companies including Hertz, NES and Liftech.

Chris Palmer, general manager of Woods CRW, who uses Barrett Trucking Company’s services said, “We have always found Barrett’s services to be reliable, honest and fair. I can’t count the number of times they have gotten us out of a jam.”

According to George Barrett, the company has become the largest equipment hauler in Vermont.

“The secret to maintaining that status is service,” he said. “To keep our customers happy, we treat our customer’s customers as if they were our own. Depending upon trailer availability, when a customer calls, we have to go. If necessary, at times we will rent a trailer to get the job done.”

Being in the equipment hauling business Barrett also is sometimes called upon to handle repossessions, and at times that can be a big job. At one time, the company hauled as many as 100 repossessed pieces of equipment out of “The Big Dig” in Boston, Mass.

Owning specialized equipment has led Barrett Trucking to haul some unconventional loads. For instance, once it had to pull a wrecked plane off the runway at the Burlington Airport.

Not long ago it also hauled a Cat 988F block handler equipped with forks instead of a bucket. The machine weighed more than 129,000 lbs. Barrett Trucking delivered it to the Port of Montreal, PQ, on its way to South Africa.

In 2001, Barrett Trucking delivered a Cat 988G weighing more than 148,000 lbs. to a quarry in Middlebury, Vt.. Approximately 10 years ago, a submarine accidentally hit and sank a boat off the coast of Hawaii. Barrett hauled the drive shaft of the submarine from Portsmouth, N.H., to Erie, Pa., and back while the drive shaft was being inspected for defects.

Luck Rubs Off on Barrett Trucking

“Over the years we have purchased a great deal of trailers from Lucky’s Trailer Sales,” said George. “One Landoll and the rest were Talbert. It would take a lot to get me to look at any other trailer than a Talbert trailer and it would take even more to get me to consider purchasing a trailer from anybody besides Lucky’s Trailer Sales. Our fleet of lowboys range in size from 35 tons to 60 tons and if the job requires a bigger trailer than that, we will rent one.

“We have seen other trailers in the marketplace that are rated for 50 tons and you only dare load them with 30 tons. We feel that our Talbert trailers can handle 150 percent of their advertised size. We’ve been doing this for a long time and every Talbert trailer that we have purchased is still running today.

“The reason we buy our Talbert trailers from Lucky’s is the service that we receive,” he added. “Information they give us such as delivery dates you can bank on. We are dealing with people like Russ [Dimmick] that we have respect for and is qualified to guide us along our decision process. They have always treated us fairly with pricing. We understand that they have to make a profit or they will not be down the road to support us. But, we also know they would never gouge us.”

Looking Into the Future

The third generation of the Barrett family is now involved in the business. Joe, Scott and Brian Barrett, and Theresa Barrett-Hill currently share responsibilities within Barrett Trucking Company. With years of family tradition ahead of them, they are eager to continue the company’s service throughout the New England area and across the United States. CEG

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