A History of Saltchuk Growth

Saltchuk was founded in 1982 with the acquisition of our first company, Totem Ocean Trailer Express. Since then we have acquired more than 30 companies organized in six operating groups: Air Cargo, Marine Services, Energy Distribution, Domestic Shipping, International Shipping and Logistics.

We are a family-owned company with a long-term outlook. Saltchuk is poised to contribute to our industries and communities for generations to come, so for us there is no choice than to invest in our operations and let our values drive our acquisition strategy.


We offer our companies the capital and resources to support reinvestment and growth.

Our marine, truck and air fleets are among the newest in the industry. We continually reinvest in our equipment and have a strong track record of reaching beyond environmental requirements to set new standards for our industries.


A shared culture of safety, integrity, and ethics is key to our success. We’ve set the goal to achieve a zero-injury workplace and require our companies to maintain safety and environmental standards they would deem acceptable for their own children.

We have found that our most successful acquisitions have been companies that share our values, therefore culture is a key element of our investment strategy.

Acquisitions & Transition Process

Saltchuk’s experienced professionals have the industry knowledge to facilitate faster, less intrusive due diligence processes. When the timing is right, our closely-held ownership and family leadership can make decisions quickly.

Most of our acquisitions have been family-owned companies, and we understand the importance of the transition process. We work with the sellers to jointly develop a post-acquisition plan for the company, its employees, and its partners.  By agreeing to a plan, we have found that we are able to create a smoother transition process for all of the parties involved and are better able to achieve the objectives that led both the buyer and seller into the transaction.

Lisa Sundborg, Alaska Petroleum Distributing

In 2019, Lisa Sunborg and her siblings were looking for a way to keep growing the family business when they decided to join NorthStar Energy and the Saltchuk family of companies.

“At the start, they really made us feel our family business was going to stay a family-run business,” she said. “And two years later, I’m telling you, that’s the way it is. Do you know how nice it is to be a small family business with an HR department, a legal team, an environmental team, a safety team – all standing by to help us? When you get as big as we were independently, we had to do all that on our own. We still have a desire to be successful – but we don’t have that constant stress.”

Read Lisa’s story here

Milt Merritt, AmNav

In 1993, new regulations in San Francisco Bay required that all tankers be escorted by state-of-the-art tractor tugs. Unable to invest millions of dollars into building these new tugs, AmNav’s leadership team decided to sell the company. Merritt reached out to three companies he knew were interested.

“One of the companies wanted to let our employees go and just retain the tugs, so they were eliminated,” Merritt explained. “The other two companies indicated their desire to keep the company, brand, management, administrative staff, and marine personnel operating as before. So what tipped the scale? Saltchuk was by far was the most open and transparent company, and we liked the positive attitudes possessed by the shareholders. They got us at ‘good attitude.’”

Read Milt’s story here

Captain Katrina Anderson, Cook Inlet Tug & Barge, Foss Maritime

Katrina Anderson is a born and raised Alaskan and – with her younger brother – the fourth generation to work the family business, Cook Inlet Tug & Barge.

“It was a tough decision (to sell Cook Inlet Tug & Barge), but regulation changes and growth in the industry were making it difficult for our small family company to keep up,” she said. “I’m just glad that Saltchuk could absorb us into their family. I’ve known about Saltchuk for most of my life: my dad started pushing the TOTE ships into the Port of Anchorage in the ’70s. TOTE was my family’s main customer. We’ve always thought highly of their business practices and were thrilled when they approached us about acquiring Cook Inlet Tug & Barge.”

Read Katrina’s story here

Tom Jankovich, Jr., The Jankovich Company

In early 2021, The Jankovich Co. joined NorthStar Energy, the energy business unit of the Saltchuk family of companies. Jankovich said he’d known of Saltchuk, especially the “good people at Foss,” for years.

“We decided to join NorthStar because we want to continue to grow,” he said. “It’s pretty hard for a small, individual company to access the capital to expand, and I thought it was the right time. There may be opportunities in the future that we’ll be able to execute on because of NorthStar’s financial strength and support.”



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