Alaska Roots, National Reach, Making History

Our History: Founded in 1980 by brothers John and Harry McDonald, Carlile has grown from two tractors to one of Alaska’s largest trucking companies.

A long-time employee in Tacoma once noticed an employee intently sweeping the warehouse floor and asked his co-workers “who’s the new guy?” They told him it was John McDonald who happened to be visiting. To this day, John can be found in the shop engineering a piece of equipment or at a project site working side-by-side with others. He enjoys the camaraderie and being in the thick of things.


Years ago when now Tacoma regional manager Ted Klein was a forklift operator, Harry McDonald asked him what he thought about running trucks from Tacoma to Anchorage. It made a lasting impression on Ted that one of Carlile’s owners genuinely wanted to hear his opinion. About a month later, Carlile began offering Arctic Express service between the two cities, which continues today.

John acknowledged that upbringing played a big part in shaping the brothers’ work ethics. “We always worked. That’s just what we did,” recalled John. “We cleaned, fixed, whatever was needed.”

Today, Carlile’s wholly-owned terminals serve Alaska from Anchorage, Fairbanks, Kenai, Kodiak, Prudhoe Bay, and Seward, as well as Tacoma, WA, Houston, TX, and Edmonton, AB. With 40 years of history in shipping goods from the lower 48 to Alaska, Carlile has become Alaska’s leading transportation company.

If you ask brothers John and Harry McDonald how they became the leading transportation company, they’ll likely credit the hard work of employees. Ask those same employees and you’ll hear how two brothers inspired a hands-on culture that continues today.

John and Harry lead by example – helping Carlile build a reputation as a family business whose members do whatever is necessary to overcome challenges to safely get the job done. The rest is history.


Carlile is a proud member of the Saltchuk Family of companies.

Contact us with your shipping needs.