The way I see it, if you want a rainbow,
you gotta put up with the rain.
- Dolly Parton
The First Year Mud Bowl
The official opening of SVF was the spring of 1977. It rained and rained, and our yard was mud, mud and more mud. The fall before, I rented Bocock's Michelan loader with the idea that I'd scrape off the topsoil down to the clay, then build the yard and main traffic areas up with gravel and pack it. Well, after spending days on that loader digging down, I realized there was no clay, so I proceeded to fill it all back with about 50 loads of big rocks, some up to three and four feet in diameter, plus many loads of gravel on the road around to the load-out. I also put down geo-tech material that the railways use for crossing swampland.
Regardless, that spring almost every load of bags, bulk and NH, had to be pulled in, unloaded and pulled back onto the road. Some customers also had to be pulled out after loading. Dave Terrault loaned us his big Case tractor. It was there most of the spring. Dave had other tractors, but once in a while he would come and ask if he could use the one he'd loaned us. He would promise to get it back as quick as he could. He was a great guy.
One day, I had pulled an NH3 truck into the yard, and it had been unloaded. Dave got in his tractor and backed up to the NH3 trailer, about three feet from the bumper. The truck driver was standing on one side at the back of the trailer, and I was on the other side. I stepped in and hooked up the chain. I was standing between the big tractor tire and the back of the NH3 trailer, talking to the truck driver, when a funny feeling came over me and an inner voice told me to step back. I did, and within a second, Dave's foot slipped off the clutch and the big tractor wheel brushed by my chest and hit the back of that trailer with tremendous force. If I hadn't stepped back, I would have been killed instantly. I looked up at Dave, and his face was white. He felt so bad, and I felt sorry for him. That was the third near-death experience in my life. I believe that if God's plan for your life is not completed, He will protect you. To this day, I often pray that God will protect our staff and customers from harm and danger.
Right from the beginning, it was a challenge to build our business. Every customer we got had been dealing somewhere else. I was not very popular with our competitors. It was not our business plan to lowball prices to gain accounts because this tactic is not sustainable. Our plan was and still is to offer honest dealing, good service and equipment, and competent, caring staff. This has produced a long-time, loyal staff and a very loyal customer base. It is very humbling for me to see the long-term loyalty of our customers, and we really appreciate it.
I recall the May 24 long weekend, which was the peak of our season. If we got a little
break, Pat, Merelyn, and I would sit outside with a cool Happy Pop and watch the holiday trailers and boats go by. Also, May 22 was our daughter, Heather's, birthday, which was always celebrated in the old lunchroom upstairs.
A LITTLE HUMOUR
The priest is out doing house calls, and he rings a doorbell. Murphy's wife goes to the door. After some pleasant conversation, the priest asks, "How many children do you have?" "Oh, Father,' she says. "We have been married for five years and we have no children." "Well, don't worry," says the priest. "Next week I am going to Rome. I will light a candle on your behalf."
Several years later, the priest was touring the same area and thought he would stop in on Murphy and his wife. Well, when she opened the door, there were wall-to-wall kids. She looked untidy and fatigued. "Father," she said, "if you are looking for Murphy, he's gone to Rome to blow out a candle."