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Opinion >  Column

Then and Now: Broadway Truck Service

UPDATED: Mon., Jan. 11, 2021

Broadway Truck Service was built on East Broadway Avenue next to the new freeway east of Spokane in 1960. Roy T. Williams was the president of the company and his brother, Bill, managed what they called Truck Town. “We will provide everything for both truck and driver,” Williams told The Spokesman-Review.

He believed that double-trailer rigs would become common, and those needed direct freeway access. There were plans for a motel and barbershop nearby.

Williams had established the Spokane Kenworth dealership, called Spokane Truck Sales and Service, in 1945 at 905 E. Third Ave. downtown. He also owned the Boise dealership.

In 1963, Roy’s brother Chuck Williams, who had run the fuel station next to the truck dealership, teamed up with Don Alsaker to buy the Broadway truck stop.

Alsaker had been born and raised in Potlatch, Idaho, served in the Navy in World War II, then worked as a logger in Bovill, Idaho. He moved to Spokane in 1960 and began working for Williams, first as a pump attendant and later as a manager, at the downtown truck stop.

The partnership “started with a handshake,” according to the truck stop’s website.

Roy Williams retired in 1965 from the truck dealership, now run by his son Neal Williams, who moved the dealership just west of the truck stop in 1967. The dealership would grow to be one of the largest in the nation, with a 20% share of the Northwest truck market. The dealerships were sold to Kenworth Sales Co. of Utah in 2001.

Alsaker bought out Chuck Williams in 1971. Don, his wife, Bernice, their son Dan and their daughter Pam Hemingway, along with other family members, worked long hours, usually 12-hour shifts, to keep the 24-hour truck stop operating.

In 1988, Dan Alsaker told the newspaper, “If there’s a key to the front door, I don’t know where it is. We never close.” Dan took over the company after his father had a heart attack in 1982.

The family added other truck stops, expanded restaurant offerings and oversaw many changes. Outside the Spokane area, the Alsakers’ Broadway Group today operates truck stops, now called travel plazas, in Pasco and Ellensburg, Washington; Hardin and Belgrade, Montana; and Battle Mountain, Nevada.

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