As of Friday, March 9, 2018
HOOD RIVER – Randy McMasters knew that area businesses required help moving goods in and out of the Columbia Gorge.
“I saw a need,” he said, and he had the experience to fill it. Using his nearly 20 years of experience in logistics, he started CRG Freight to help move goods in the Columbia Gorge.
When it started, CRG Freight had one truck. But as Hood River and surrounding area grew, CRG Freight grew too. Today, McMasters’s CRG Freight has seven large 26-foot delivery trucks and moves freight in and out of the Gorge and through the Portland metro area.
In a year, the company does a total of 650,000 miles and moves about 8,448 tons of freight.
“Anything that can fit in a truck,” office manager Katie McMasters said.
And they have added services. They don’t just move freight between the gorge and Portland. They serve their Portland clients by offering deliveries in the Portland metro area. They offer “Hot Shot” services – an expedited delivery service to meet a customer’s deadline.
McMasters’s goal is to not let freight sit in a truck. Goods are delivered as soon as they are received from a customer. Some carriers, he said, will take possession of goods but those items will sit in a truck or warehouse for a day. Not at CRG Freight. As soon as they get items, they are put on a truck and out for delivery.
Katie also acts a broker, allowing the local freight company to move freight beyond the Columbia Gorge and Portland. Katie can move freight anywhere in the United States and the world by working with carriers that serve larger areas. CRG Freight takes a customer’s goods and forward them on.
Just as it has grown with the Columbia Gorge, it has faced the same challenges. The winter is always a little slower, Katie said, however, last year’s winter weather created special challenges and even delays.
Then there was the Eagle Creek Fire that resulted in the closure of Interstate 84. McMasters said they had to find different ways of getting freight to and from – it meant looking at their routes and schedules.
CRG Freight moves goods to and from the Columbia River Gorge.
“We took it day by day,” he said. “We had to go over mountains and just do it.”
That effort, he explains, shows their customers they are more than just a delivery – and they are likely to continue to use the freight company’s services.
CRG Freight faces another common problem in the Columbia Gorge: Finding employees. Katie said there was a time that she could post a job opening and get several applicants. But now it is harder since there are fewer people looking for work.
While they want drivers with some experience, McMasters said they would take a driver with no experience and train them.
“Sometimes those drivers turn out to be the best drivers,” he said, adding it is all about finding the right person. Sometimes, the candidate with no experience is open to learning while someone with experience might not be. “We need a hard worker not just a good driver.”
Employees get more than just a job – they get an extended family. Katie said the drivers are close and loyal. Katie and McMaster are a father-daughter duo that work hard to treat their drivers like people not, a number.
While CRG Freight has been around for 12 years, there are still people that don’t know they are here – and customers are still surprised that they serve the gorge.
“We still get asked what does CRG stand for,” Katie said, “It stands for Columbia River Gorge.”