Trout died Nov. 20; remaining original shareholders remember his ‘grateful heart.’
By Hilary Reeves
Whenever Everett “Ev” Trout told the well-worn story of his initial April 1, 1976 meeting with the group of men responsible for the burgeoning startup Totem Ocean Trailer Express, it took on shades of “too good to be true.”
Trout had flown to Seattle from California to interview for a position.
“It was very exciting. I thought the company had a lot of spirit and high morale. I thought its system for moving freight to Alaska was amazing. When I got back home, I was optimistic, but I didn’t hear anything. I thought maybe I’d misread the situation. Three weeks later, I received an envelope. In it was a letter from Leonard about a number of potential opportunities with the company. They had wanted to reach out to me sooner, but I had forgotten to put my phone number on my resume,” he laughed.
Trout and eight other company executives eventually joined outside investors to buy TOTE in 1982. He died on Nov. 20 at the age of 84, following fellow original shareholders Bob McMillen, who died in 2002, and Len Shapiro last year.
‘He was a superb person’
Trout was born and raised in Los Angeles, graduating from UCLA in 1957. He joined the Navy after college, where he served as a Beach Jumper and a PT Boat Captain for two years before joining Mojave Trucking. In 1976, Trout joined TOTE as the Vice President of Sales and Operations. He retired in 1995 when he and seven other investors formed a new partnership, Totem Resources (now Saltchuk Resources).
Stan Barer, Mike Garvey, and Fred Goldberg, the three remaining original TOTE shareholders, took a moment to reflect on the passing of their long-time friend. The word most often used: gratitude.
“Ev was a friend and colleague for more than 30 years,” said Garvey. “The second-to-last time I talked to him, I had called him to tell him how sorry I was that his son had died. He’d lost his wife, then his son. He needed full-time care. He knew he was dying. But he didn’t want to talk about any of that. He talked about how grateful he was for his life, the colleagues he worked with, and the company he helped to build. He had such a grateful heart.”
A grateful heart, and also an unparalleled commitment to the success of the company, said Barer.
“Ev was a critically important person to the success of Saltchuk. He had an uncanny ability to work with people of every persuasion and draw them together in support of the company. And he was totally dedicated to its success. He had a great sense of humor.”
According to Barer, Trout’s ability to work well across all political and economic classes, and his enthusiasm and ability to relate to people was “superb.”
“He was a superb person,” he concluded. “We had a great friendship and great respect for each other, and I’m going to miss him dearly.”
A friendship that withstood the test of time
At TOTE, Trout worked as Vice President of Sales and Operations. He, Bob McMillen and Len Shapiro were employed at TOTE in 1982 when they and a group of outside investors worked to purchase the company. Garvey, Stan Barer, and Fred Goldberg were the outside investors. Garvey and Barer were law partners. Barer and Goldberg had been college roommates. Goldberg’s role, he said, was financing the purchase.
“In 1982, I was on the Board of Puget Sound National Bank – our first lender,” he said. “When I first met Ev, I knew him as a sales guy. Usually, sales guys are great guys. They have good people skills, and Ev was no exception.”
Goldberg often traveled with Ev and his late wife, Sandy. He described Ev as a “kind of legendary fisherman” with a home in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.
“Ev was kind of a man’s man. But he was also a gentlemanly, gentle man. He loved to tell stories. He was the consummate supporter of the partnership. He was like me: he always felt he was the luckiest guy alive.”
In addition to the travel and adventures Ev was always up for, his relationship with Sandy was a defining aspect of his life, Goldberg said.
“It’s a nice love story,” he said. “When the two of them were together, they didn’t always agree. Whenever Sandy would call him ‘Everett,’ he knew it was trouble. They were a wonderful couple, and they were very generous with their feelings – for each other and for the people they cared about.”
Goldberg echoed Garvey’s remembrance of Trout’s grateful steadfastness.
“I think, honestly, I can’t ever remember him being disagreeable. He was a really thoughtful man who really cared about his relationships. He was always listening to the other guys, always aware of the other guys, always warm and respectful. That’s something we hoped to pass down to the next generation, and I think we’ve succeeded. Some people think it’s just amazing how we were able to stay partners all those years and to weather all those storms, but if you knew Ev, he made it easy. He was a very special man. It’s kind of hard to wrap it into words.”