Not all businesses survive the transition to a second generation. Not all siblings can manage a company side by side. Yet after 40 years, Zwald Transport of Tillamook continues to grow and thrive.
Owned and operated by a second generation sister and brother combination, Heather Taksdal and Nick Zwald, who seem to complement each other’s strengths perfectly, Zwald Transport now runs a fleet of 23 trucks in Oregon, Washington, Idaho and Utah.
It was Heather and Nick’s dad, Ken Zwald, who founded the company in 1979, hauling hay on a flat bed. In 1982 Zwald Transport acquired its first milk route for the Tillamook County Creamery Association. In 1986, Ken hired his first additional driver, Wayne Schroeder, who still drives for the company.
“I’ve been involved in the business in some shape or form for most of my life,” remembers Nick, who obtained his CDL soon after graduating from Tillamook High School. After obtaining a business degree in college, Heather worked at a truck brokerage in the Portland area. In 2004 their dad asked her to return to Zwald Transport, where she has worked ever since.
Heather and Nick gradually took on additional responsibilities and in 2015 purchased the family business from Ken and his wife, Nonda. Since then, the company has aggressively grown; obtaining additional milk routes, starting new divisions, and upgrading equipment.
Today Zwald is a diverse transport company that includes a refrigerated freight hauling division that transports Tillamook Cheese product to four states, a log hauling division transporting raw wood product to mills along the Oregon coast, a flat bed division hauling lumber from local mills to stores in Oregon and Washington, and of course the company’s long standing milk routes for the Tillamook County Creamery Association.
Heather and Nick each focus their energy on providing outstanding service to their clients and making sure that Zwald Transport has an exceptional work environment. “We want to be a place where people want to work at,” explains Heather. “Without our employees, there is no business,” adds Nick.
Zwald Transport’s 45 employees enjoy a generous suite of benefits including medical insurance, dental supplement, life insurance, paid time off and a retirement plan. As large as the company has grown, Heather and Nick still strive to maintain a family atmosphere, and consider that atmosphere “very important for our employees”.
“Maybe the smartest choice we made was choosing our bank,” says Heather. Nick recalls that shortly after they had purchased the business from their dad, the company faced a crisis. Because of a plant closure, Zwald’s vacuum tanker division lost a key client. Overnight, one third of the company’s revenues had evaporated. Heather and Nick called Joe Postlewait at Oregon Coast Bank. Joe visited immediately and offered to finance equipment for a new division hauling logs, a division that soon grew and exceeded the lost revenue. In Nick’s words: “We may not be here today had it not been for Oregon Coast Bank believing in us.”
Not only has Zwald Transport grown into one of the central coast’s major employers, its trucks now distribute locally-made products throughout four states. That’s quite an achievement. On a lighter note, it’s also salvation for parents. Next time your kids are quarrelling, remind them that some siblings actually get along. Heather and Nick do, and look what they’ve accomplished.