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Northwestern University

Jerry G. Chambers

Chambers Hall, Transportation Center headquarters, is named for Jerry G. Chambers (1907 - 1987), who in 1938 founded the firm that became Clipper Exxpress. Clipper was an intermodal marketing company some decades before the term was invented, offering scheduled, less-than-carload service from Chicago to the West Coast, at extraordinarily low rates.

While he volunteered in Europe during World War II, his wife, Evelyn, ran the firm and positioned it for the trailer-on-flat-car systems that would emerge in the late 50's. Clipper was an innovator in service and pricing, moving away from the commodity-specific rates of that era to the "Freight-All-Kinds" structure and creative volume discounts.

Often ahead of the industry, Chambers commissioned the design of a double-stack container car and promoted the technology for several years before it was accepted. Before deregulation of rail pricing in 1980, Clipper was providing rate and service options to its customers, and leading fights for rate equity at the Interstate Commerce Commission. Ready for deregulation, Clipper prospered until it was acquired by Arkansas Best freight, Inc., in 1994.

In 1998, under the leadership of director Aaron Gellman, construction began on a permanent home for the Transportation Center. And, in 1999, Chambers Hall—the building in which the Transportation Center is headquartered—was named for Chambers.

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