Industry Pioneer Sidney Alterman Dies

Sidney Alterman, founder and president of Alterman Transport Lines, died Feb 22, 2001, of a stroke. He was 89.

The son of Latvian immigrants, Alterman was born in Omaha NE in 1912. The family moved to New Jersey while he was still an infant. In 1936, he moved to Miami FL with his brother, sister, and recently widowed mother. In South Florida, he held numerous jobs, including operating a gas station adjacent to the old produce market in downtown Miami. The gas station put him in the trucking business when he settled a debt with a customer by taking a truck as payment.

Alterman built a career and a business from that one truck. He drove it. He found the loads. Sometimes he even built his own trailers. He was one of those fiercely independent types that came to be called gypsy truckers, picking up loads when they needed to be picked up and delivered when and where shippers desired. Alterman and a few of his competitors such as Bill Watkins, Clarence McBride, and Willis Shaw built a new kind of trucking company - the irregular-route common carrier.

At his death after 63 years in trucking, Alterman had built his company into the second-largest carrier of refrigerated LTL shipments in the nation with 17 terminals and more than 1,400 employees.

He is survived by his wife, Geri; one sister; four sons; four grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren. His son, Richard Alterman, says the business will carry on, because that was his father's wish.

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