A lounge for drivers at Smokey Point Distributing in Arlington offers a reclining sectional and a large-screen television. (Contributed photo)

Trucking with all of the bells and whistles in Arlington

ARLINGTON — Hauling freight from Point A to Point B now includes a zero-gravity relaxation chair.

That’s just one of the fringe benefits of the new terminal built by Smokey Point Distributing, a national trucking firm in Arlington.

The building comes with the goals of attracting and keeping employees and also using technology to make the outfit as efficient as possible.

“It’s very, very difficult to retain long-haul drivers,” said Dan Wirkkala, Smokey Point Distributing’s president and CEO. “It was important for us to make the move not only to give our people a new home and somewhere they love to come to work but it was also for the retention of our drivers to make sure they have a nice facility here.”

Truckers and other employees can book massages through their Outlook calendar in the relaxation chair, which features Infinity speakers that stream Pandora music and 3-D imaging for each individual’s back.

Smokey Point Distributing employs about 400 workers, including about 285 drivers and 115 administration and support staff.

The majority of those workers are based at Arlington, but Smokey Point Distributing has smaller terminals around the U.S. Smokey Point Distributing is owned by Daseke, a trucking company headquartered in Addison, Texas.

Smokey Point Distributing specializes in open-deck hauling — often flatbed trailers — and hauls general commodity loads, including for aerospace businesses such as Boeing, Triumph Structures and Spirit Aerospace.

The company has been based in Arlington since it was started in 1979.

The new terminal at 19201 63rd Ave. NE is 60,000 square feet shared between administration offices and the shop and sits on 16 acres.

It’s about three times as large as the old terminal, which is less than a mile away, across from Crown Distributing.

“We had been in our previous location for about 20 years and when we first moved into that location, we thought we’d never outgrow it,” Wirkkala said.

Wirkkala and his management team designed the layout for the new building.

Barbara Daseke, the wife of Don Daseke, the chairman of the parent company’s board, owns an interior decorating company and did the terminal’s design. Coast Construction in Arlington built the terminal.

The firm finished moving into the terminal last fall. Wirkkala declined to say how much the building cost. Smokey Point Distributing still plans to build a 10,000- to 15,000-square-foot addition to offer warehousing space for clients once the former terminal is sold.

The terminal looks like any industrial building from the outside. The inside looks entirely different, painted in deep earth tones and decorated with paintings, plants and other accents.

A driver’s lounge includes a black leather reclining sectional and a large-screen television.

A gym includes two treadmills and a bike machine. Large showers with slate tile offer a place for drivers to clean up after trips. Washing and drying machines are also available.

There are several conference rooms and a couple of kitchens, including one large enough to hold employees for companywide announcements. That dining area includes a roll-up door to the outside for barbecues or just to let the breeze inside.

A fenced-in dog run outside offers a place for employees to bring their pets.

As far as being more efficient, the terminal offers a training room with the computer equipment that drivers will have out on the road.

One large open space features pods focused on several geographic areas of the U.S., and one pod to focus on permits.

The offices are outfitted with 26 televisions that give up-to-the-minute analytics on such things as loads and available trucks.

“It gives us quick visuals on where we need assistance and where we need more loads in the system to facilitate the trucks we have available,” Wirkkala said.

The shop features seven bays with wireless connectivity to the Internet at each site so mechanics can quickly look up information on parts or parts availability.

One of the biggest fringe benefits is just being able to close the doors, said Dawn Craig, the shop manager.

The old terminal featured bays where the truck and trailer couldn’t fit all the way into the building. That meant that the bay doors often needed to remain open on cold and rainy days.

Now the bays are big enough to house all of the equipment, she said.

“It’s night and day compared to where we were,” Craig said. “We were functionable definitely over there, but for our guys and the pride they take in the equipment that they work it makes a big difference that the environment is that much more pleasant.”

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