The Day it Hit !
The day was June 1, 2007. The day that changed Curry'sTransportation Services forever. On this day Curry's was hit by a tornado that devastated the communities of Muscatine and Fruitland, Iowa. Life changed for many that day. This particular tornado ravaged several other businesses, homes, parks and even cemeteries in the Muscatine area as well.
The decision was rather or not to rebuild in Muscatine. It would have been a more economical decision to move the transportation, repair and backhoe businesses elsewhere. But, the decision was to rebuild right here in Muscatine. To rebuild the business into something much bigger, better and stronger than it was before that dreadful day. A task that would not be done alone.
Many thanks go out to everyone involved in the reconstruction of the businesses. The new facility cost nearly $3 million to build and has an annual payroll of over $5 million. It is a 56,000 square foot facility that employs well over 100 employees. We are now one of Eastern Iowa's largest flatbed carriers and have recently added Expedite, Van and Brokerage divisions to our growing list of services that we can provide in the transportation industry.
Since the tornado, Curry's Transportation Services has also acquired Nelson Trucking. Nelson was a 50 year old, very well established flatbed company based out of Mediapolis, Iowa. Curry's still has a maintenance and repair facility in Mediapolis.
Today the mountain of twisted steel and debris is gone... And a brand new building stands just down the road on the opposite side of US Highway 61 that houses the Curry Incorporated companies. Hard work, help from others and a dedication to provide great service can even overcome the effects of Mother Nature.
The next time you need transportation services, new equipment, maintenance or backhoe work done... think Curry's
After The Storm: One Year Later
Muscatine Journal - Sunday May 31,2008 - by Cynthia Beaudette @ 563-262-0527
Tools of teamwork help sustain Muscatine business
When Curry's Backhoe Service was wiped out by last year's tornado, no one was quite sure what would happen next. But in the days and months that followed, employees and employer alike banded together in sparce conditions under makeshift shelters to keep the business afloat until it could land back on its feet.
MUSCATINE, Iowa -
When Randy Dierickx came to work for Curry, Inc. in Muscatine in 2003, the experienced mechanic was no stranger to hard work. But even his 30 years in the field had not prepared him for the challenges he's faced over the past 12 months. On June 1, 2007, a tornado tore though Curry's Backhoe Service, Inc. at 2511 Grandview Avenue, leaving the buildings and grounds in a shambles. Three days later, Dierickx, 48, and his fellow mechanics were back at their jobs, working outside to complete orders.
Jeff Bennett, the General Manager for Curry's Transportation, said it began raining that first day back and he expected the mechanics to pick up their tools and leave. "Instead, they put up a piece of plywood scrap over the truck and crawled under it and worked the rest of the day," he said, shaking his head and grinning.
"It's work that had to be done," said Dierickx.
Caring pays off
Tom Brockett, 25, billing clerk for Curry's, said the tornado galvanized the company's already close-knit crew. "It made everyone closer," said Brockett. "We all had to pull together. We were very fortunate. We didn't have to go to any funerals."
Along with the loss of the building, many of the mechanics lost significant portions of their tools. "These guys had their grandfather's screwdrivers or wrenches, stuff they had accumulated over a long period of time, " said Jason Curry, who with his wife, Hope, owns Curry, Inc., which includes Curry's Transportation Services, R.D. Truck & Trailer Repair and Curry's Backhoe Service.
Dierickx recovered 90 percent of his tools, but lost his tool box.
Curry's ability to understand the loss the men would feel is evident in his voice. He displayed his compassion by purchasing new, waist-high metal tool boxes for the mechanics. Curry said that king of caring attitude is probably one of the best reasons the company was not only able to endure this past year, but increase its business by 30 percent. "We didn't lose one customer," said Brockett. "And we never went without a paycheck."
From Mediapolis to Muscatine
Jason and Hope had been working on the architechural plans for a building they had intended to locate in Mediapolis, a town about 30 miles south of Muscatine, for two years before the storm slammed their Muscatine operation. As he surveyed the damage to his 11-year-old business, Jason, 39, said his first thoughts centered on the future of the staff, many of whom had families to support. To ensure they would have a job, he decided to move his building plans to Muscatine.
"Part of our motivation was knowing that Jason could have pulled the plug on the whole thing," said Brockett. "The fact he stepped up to the challenge gave us the momentum to keep going."
A long, cold winter
When he realize the the new headquarters wouldn't be ready for winter, Dierickx began hoping for a mild season. That didn't happen. Throughout the relatively cold winter of 2007-08, the mechanics worked in a 50-foot-by-100-foot canvas-covered building built over a metal frame. It did little to keep out the chill of the often below-freezing temperatures.
"These guys were washing their hands in a bucket of ice water," said Jason. "We didn't have enough heat to keep it thawed."
Dierickx and his co-workers were resourceful. "we'd put grease in an oil container in front of the heater in the morning so it would thaw," said Dierickx. "And we used a space heater. As long as I was moving, I was OK."
Brockett said the drainage in the tent was poor and there were many days when his feet would be wet by 8 a.m. and they would stay that way the rest of the day.
Bennett said the mechanics had to do some interesting maneuvering to fit six trucks in the structure so they could work on them all at once. But the team didn't lose heart.
"We knew Jason was doing everything he could as fast as he could," said Brockett. "We knew there was light at the end of the tunnel."
A new home
In February, the mechanics moved into a completed, spacious, heated garage at the new headquarters at 4200 Highway 61 South.
"We didn't get them in the building until February," said Bennett. "But they stuck around. The respect I have for our mechanics is hard to verbalize."
At the end of March, the rest of the staff moved into the office building. The clean look and the new smell of fresh construction greets visitors that enter the spacious foyer at Curry's Transportation Service, Inc. and Curry's R.D. Truck and Trailer Repair. Sunshine pours through the wide-window entryway that climbs to the ceiling and encases a view of acres of young crops capping the ground in waves of green.
Curry, who is still dealing with the insurance company and the City of Muscatine, has had his share of frustrations in the areas of settlements and building codes. But he says sharing the journey with his wife and staff has been a very rewarding experience. "I can't say enough about our workers," said Jason.
At Curry's Transportation, we believe strongly in being good corporate citizens and good stewards of the environment. We have a long-standing commitment to improving the environmental performance of our freight operators.That’s why we’ve been a SmartWay® Transport Partner since 2005.
SmartWay® is an EPA program that reduces transportation-related emissions by creating incentives to improve supply chain fuel efficiency.
Visit the SmartWay® website for more information.