Gear Head

December 26, 2018

At her home in Wasilla, Alaska, Alex Utke is usually outside, updating her Jeep from two-to four-wheel drive or working on the seasoned snow machine – an heirloom in her boyfriend’s family. Or the dust might be settling behind her dirt bike as she heads into the woods surrounding her home.

Alex gets her love for engines and the outdoors from her father. “It started out with my dad getting me a vintage Honda 50 when I was super little, and every day after school I was glued to that thing. Then he got me a bigger dirt bike, and a bigger dirt bike. Then he started getting me three-wheelers, go-karts and a Tote Gote,” Alex says.

“He was a diesel mechanic. He worked on trucks, heavy machinery — anything really — and I always went to work with him. Everywhere we went, he would teach me about what he was working on.”

She became a self-described “gearhead” — a distinction that now makes her popular with like-minded customers at the Wasilla Home Depot, where she’s a supervisor in the Pro department. “Once they find out I’m a gearhead, too, they want to know where I’m going and what I’m doing. They come in to get a lot of supplies to build their shops and sheds, and then they share with me what they’re working on.”

“I love it because you work with all the departments and can watch all the projects happen,” she explains.

Alex’s career and her mechanical prowess made her father proud. “I rebuilt the top end of my dirt bike last summer. Dad would brag to his friends about it and ask them what their sons were up to,” she recalls with a laugh.

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