For decades, residents of the Gunnison Valley have seen the partnership of Barney’s Trucking and Robinson Transport haul coal from the SUFCO Mine through their towns, but no longer.
As of Feb. 26, a longstanding agreement between the two Salina-based trucking companies and Wolverine Fuels, the owner of the SUFCO Mine, is over.
Savage, a Carbon County-based company, will take over the duties of hauling coal from SUFCO, as well as Skyline and other mines owned by Wolverine Fuels.
The change has the potential to affect the regional economy since Barney and Robinson are the area’s two largest trucking outfits and employ a significant number of Central Utah’s truck drivers and support staff.
“Unfortunately, after 74 years of serving the SUFCO Mine, the partnership of Robinson Transport and Barney Trucking did not receive the renewal,” read a statement co-released by the Salina trucking companies.
Barney and Robinson both have reportedly begun furloughing some employees to deal with the reduction in business from the Wolverine contract.
The change of the contract award from Barney and Robinson was strictly based on a bid negotiation that Savage won, according to Wolverine officials, who visited with Sevier County Commissioners after the new agreement with Savage was announced. Four bids were made for the contract, which lasts for three years. The contract will be open for bid again in 2024.
Savage is no stranger to working with Wolverine Fuels and other companies under its umbrella, having worked for them under several contracts, including coal-hauling for the Lila Canyon Mine since 2010.
“Were excited about the opportunity to continue working with Wolverine Fuels and haul more coal from their mines and mines they work with,” said Jeff Hymas, Savage communications director. “Savage is a family-owned business that has been around for 75 years and our values include doing the right thing, finding a better way and making a difference. We will continue to work hard to be a good neighbor and a good partner in the communities where we work and where our team members live.”
Hymas said that people worried about the local economic impact from Barney and Robinson’s lost contract can take heart in the silver lining that Savage is very interested in bringing on truck drivers who might have lost their employment during the switch.
“There are opportunities for people in your area who want to work as drivers,” he said. “We’ve been actively working to hire new drivers, including ones who have previously hauled coal from these locations. We’re looking for as many qualified drivers from these areas as we can; and we will continue to do so. We want to get that word out to as many people as possible. Savage is a great place to work,”
According to Hymas, Savage will also be looking to bring on any small local trucking companies who are interested in hauling coal through them on a subcontract basis.
Savage was founded in 1946 when Kenneth Savage returned to American Fork from serving in World War II in the Navy. After partnering with his father to buy a truck, Savage began hauling coal from Utah mines and delivering it to homes and businesses.
It wasn’t long before the younger brothers came on board and the family business grew until it was hauling coal for Utah power plants. Now Savage boasts 4,500 team members in more than 200 locations.