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COVER STORY


Home Grown Derald Eastlick—Making a living off the land


PHOTOGRAPHY BY PHIL BELL


BY KELLY CARGILL ContributingWriter


Ah, the great American tradition of if you


can dream it, you can do it. At almost 80 years old, Derald Eastlick is living the American dream. And when he tells his story, he is guaranteed to include a couple asides just to draw a laugh. Born the son of a farmer inMolt,Mont.,


Eastlick dreamed of running his own business. His dad, Eastlick admits, didn’t quite understand why he would want to trade in the wheat, barley, hay and cattle for trucks, trailers and drivers. “I always just liked trucks,” Eastlick explained. “I just kind of flew by the seat of my pants.My dad thought I was crazy.” But in 1954, his dad helped him start G. D. Eastlick, Inc. which distributes wheat, barley,


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hay and other produce—turns out he wasn’t willing to stray too far from his farming roots. Eastlick moved his company 52 years ago


to Billings,Mont. where it remains today. “I just wanted to run a few trucks—between 10 to 20—so I could make a good living,” Eastlick said. “In 1964, I had four trucks. That’s when I quit driving so I could better run the business.” At the time, Eastlick was primarily hauling produce out of California and beer out of Milwaukee. Today G.D. Eastlick, Inc. has 17 trucks, but


has run up to 22—right where Eastlick hoped he would be—hauling flour and produce primarily to Arizona, California, Oregon and Washington. For more than half a century, Eastlick has not only been in the trucking business, but


also involved in the politics of the trucking business. “Government regulations are getting more and more strict,” Eastlick said. “It used to be if you provided a good service and did a good job, they would loan you a little money, but right now, with all the regulation, it all has to run through big corporations. I’m really disappointed in this corporate view.” Increased regulation during a recession


is what Eastlick finds particularly frustrating. “The ‘80s we terrible,” he said. “It was difficult to survive deregulation, but everyone made it through with loans. No one can do that today. The recession is better now, but it’s still going for a lot of people.” New laws have taken the personal


relationships out of running a trucking company, Eastlick said. “I just loved this


ROADWISE | JUNE 2010 | www.mttrucking.org


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