Randy Eyth: ‘Sometimes you have to learn to let things go’
By Hilary Reeves
Randy Eyth was born and raised in Fairbanks, Alaska. He grew up working in his father’s fabrication shop.
“I spent a lot of time outdoors as a kid,” he said “In the ‘70s, we had snow machines, river boats, ocean boats – we did a lot of fishing.”
Eyth’s father and grandfather jointly purchased Fairbanks Machine and Steel in the 1950s from the original owners, who had operated the business since 1918.
“My dad was a machinist; he got his start in his high school machine shop and was a machinist in the Navy. I have an older brother and an older sister, and when we weren’t at school, we spent our days cleaning my dad’s shop. My dad would say, ‘here’s a broom, go sweep.’ It gave my mom a break, and my dad some cheap labor,” he laughed. “We were the largest fabrication facility in the state during the pipeline boom. In the end, it got too big for Dad to manage. An investment group made him an offer and he sold the company in 1980. The business was bankrupt four years later.”
Eyth, meanwhile, wanted to be a cop. In 1987, he passed the entry exam and progressed through the academy with the goal of joining the City of Fairbanks Police Department, but there was a hiring freeze. The following year he applied and tested to become an Alaska State Trooper, but was ultimately denied because of a pending traffic accident temporarily marring his driving record. He tried again in 2003, and was accepted, but he was subsequently given full custody of his young daughter and couldn’t make the training work with her schedule.
Always, Eyth fell back on his background as a mechanic.
He worked in the Alaska West Express shop before joining Truckwell, painting UPS trucks and police cars, and putting together the highway snowplows so vital to winter life in Alaska.
By the late 1990s, Eyth decided he’d rather be driving trucks than working on them, and he joined Black Gold Express as a driver. Less than a year later, he was out of a job.
“In February 1999, Harry (MacDonald) had just bought out Black Gold,” he said. “A couple of us looked around at each other and said, ‘I guess we need to go get a job now. So we drove over to Carlile and asked for a job, and I’ve been there ever since.”
Eyth’s typical 13-hour trips between Anchorage and Fairbanks can be done in a single day, though he occasionally drives longer routes to Valdez or Prudhoe Bay.
“The scariest thing is stepping out of the truck and having an animal there,” he said. “Last spring, I woke up from a nap, stepped out of the truck to get back to the driver’s seat, and there was a Grizzly standing not far from the truck. I stepped out another time and there was a wolf hanging out near the rear axle. I quickly decided I didn’t need to get out of the truck after all, and I shut the door.”
And while he still likes to fish, he said he has to be convinced to make any road trips in his free time
“For me to go and drive for enjoyment doesn’t happen anymore,” he said. “I own a boat and a camping trailer, and I like to get to Seward to fish, but it’s like pulling teeth for my girlfriend to get me to drive out there.”
He has a home shop where he still tinkers on cars. And his daughter, now grown up, has a three-year-old daughter of her own.
“I see them all the time; they live nearby,” he said. “My daughter’s husband Rob works for Carlile as well.”
Though driving is hard on the body, Eyth said, he’s not slowing down any time soon.
“I’m happy where I’m at,” he said. “Carlile came into Alaska at a good time. At Carlile, we’re ‘anything, anywhere, anytime’ type of truckers. It wasn’t then and it still isn’t other Anchorage companies’ forte.”
When Eyth joined the company in 1999, he got the chance to learn more about the trucking industry than he ever thought he would.
“If I could do one thing differently, I’d have stayed in college,” he said. “I had a music scholarship to the University of Alaska Fairbanks. I tried it, but I think I was just ready to be done with school. I didn’t want to have to go home and study for hours; I kind of wanted to do other things. Looking back, I was stupid, but I’ve made the choices I’ve made, right, wrong, or indifferent and I’m content with them. Sometimes you have to learn to let things go.”