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FreightWaves Haul of Fame: Los Angeles Seattle Motor Express

The Pacific Coast was this company’s realm

A Los Angeles Seattle Motor Express backed up to a dock.

The FreightWaves Haul of Fame showcases companies that have had an impact on the transportation industry, past or present.

Los Angeles Seattle Motor Express, or LASME, began with the partnership of two trucking companies in 1932. The companies were Hendrix Refrigerated Truck Lines, located in Seattle, and Los Angeles Seattle Motor Express. The two companies merged and continued under the name of the latter company. In 1934, Oscar Hendrickson joined the company as accountant to bring the company’s books into order. He stayed with the company for some time, eventually reaching the ranks of general manager and vice president. In 1935, the company had grown to 10 employees. 

Acquired in 1949 

The company was purchased by R. Stuart Moore in 1949. Moore did not share the lofty expansion ambitions of many other trucking company owners of the time, and instead LASME focused on the corridor for which the company was named. However, the company was successful, running from Vancouver, British Columbia, 30 miles north of the United States border, down to Los Angeles and back again using approximately 1,000 pieces of equipment. In 1958, the company reported revenues of $11.8 million and net income of $740,000. In the first nine months of 1959, LASME had reported net income of $630,000 and gross revenues were estimated to eclipse $14 million.

The company’s success was attractive to potential buyers. In 1959, National City Lines, Inc. of Chicago purchased Los Angeles Seattle Motor Express for $8 million ($6 million in cash and the rest in shares of National City Lines, Inc. stock). The purchase included B.C. Seattle Transport, LASME’s division providing transportation between Seattle and Vancouver, British Columbia.

The strange story of National City Lines

National City Lines, Inc. ran local bus lines in several cities. The company had grown from the Fitzgerald brothers’ bus operations, which began in Minnesota in 1920 as a modest local transport company operating two buses. 

Part of the Fitzgerald’s operations were reorganized into a holding company in 1936, and later expanded in 1938 with equity funding from General Motors, Firestone, Standard Oil of California and Phillips Petroleum for the express purpose of acquiring local transit systems throughout the United States in what became known as the General Motors streetcar conspiracy. The company formed a subsidiary in 1937 (Pacific City Lines) to purchase streetcar systems in the western United States. National City Lines and Pacific City Lines were indicted in 1947 on charges of conspiring to acquire control of a number of transit companies, and of forming a transportation monopoly for the purpose of “conspiring to monopolize sales of buses and supplies to companies owned by National City Lines.” They were acquitted on the first charge and convicted on the second in 1949.

LASME is merged with other trucking companies

In 1968, LASME was merged with DC International and T.I.M.E. to form T.I.M.E.-DC. The Los Angeles Seattle Motor Express name was no longer used.

Based in Dallas, T.I.M.E.-DC became one of the trucking industry’s largest carriers for a time. However, as was the case at numerous carriers in the aftermath of trucking deregulation, the company’s employees who were members of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters went on strike in 1982. Unfortunately, the company never fully recovered from that strike. Prior to the strike, T.I.M.E.-DC was generating about $200 million in annual operating revenue.

T.I.M.E.-DC attempted to rebuild its general freight trucking service following the strike, but ultimately could not overcome the strike’s effects and increased competition. A national carrier prior to the strike, the company operated chiefly on the West Coast after the strike ended. Ironically, this was the territory originally worked by LASME. 

After struggling for several years, T.I.M.E.-DC discontinued trucking services on March 18, 1988. The company had reported revenue of about $1 million a month, but it lost $4.5 million in the last six months of 1987 and had operating losses of $500,000 in both January and February 1988. 

If you would like to suggest a company that might be featured in the FreightWaves Haul of Fame, please send information and photos (you must own the rights to the photos!) to Scott Mall at [email protected]

Scott Mall

Scott Mall serves as Managing Editor of FreightWaves Classics. He writes articles for the website, edits the SONAR Daily Watch series, marketing material for FreightWaves and a variety of FreightWaves special projects. Mall’s career spans 45 years in public relations, marketing and communications for Fortune 500 corporations, international non-profits, public relations agencies and government agencies.