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Custom machinery remains backbone of their Harrisburg business.

Byline: Karen McCowan The Register-Guard

HARRISBURG - The biggest sales occur behind the retail floor at what locals still call Hurd's Hardware.

Even those who regularly shop here for garden supplies, auto accessories, or nuts and bolts may not know what goes on in the back room.

That's where Glenn Hurd and a staff of five welders and machinists build the farm implements, fire trucks and bomb disposal trailers that account for 60 percent of the company's $1.1 million in annual sales.

Accountant Lisa Hurd, 35, Glenn's daughter and one of the third generation of owners of the business, said it has come a long way since 1947, when her grandparents J. Roscoe Hurd and Eleanor Detering Hurd bought what was then more of a general store.

"We sold everything from Hoffman's TVs and Levi jeans to Red Wing Shoes and G.E. washers," recalled Glenn, who first worked in the store as a teenager.

As the economy boomed after World War II, the business grew to the point that the family operated two stores, selling sporting goods, fishing and hunting supplies at the present location and televisions, plumbing and household items at a satellite location two blocks away on Main Street.

But all along, they provided the kind of hardware that really counted in a farming community: custom machinery.

Glenn's father had worked at a Los Angeles Boeing aircraft construction plant during World War II. He adapted what he'd learned while working with sheet metal and aluminum there to create machines to help area farmers become more efficient.

"He invented bulb-diggers and carrot-diggers to be used here in the valley," Glenn said. "We built mint stills and fertilizer spreaders and a cranberry picking machine. We made a pollen vacuum machine for tree plantations. Mom and Dad always said the front of the store was a supply warehouse for the back."

Glenn Hurd, 60, credits his wife with keeping the business financially healthy after the death of his mother in 1982.

Karen Hurd, 57, started working at the store in 1965, even before she married into the family.

"She knows more about this business from head to toe than anybody," he said. "In 1972, she had me teach her to weld because she wanted to know more about that end of the business."

Under Glenn's leadership, Hurd's expanded what got made in the back shop.

"We make fire trucks," Glenn said. "Eugene's got two, Junction City's got four, Harrisburg's got a couple. And we've probably made 180 emergency services vehicles."

But bomb disposal trailers are perhaps Hurd's' most specialized and successful product.

"We've sold over 180 different units worldwide, from Germany to Panama to Saudi Arabia," Glenn said. "We actually have a broker in Connecticut who is our exporter."

The trailers are used for transporting explosive materials, and a majority are purchased by military organizations.

Glenn Hurd built the first such trailer 26 years ago.

Lisa Hurd and her husband, Kevin Flieger, became partners in the business in 1999, after she graduated from Lane Community College's accounting program and took over the books. Flieger, 38, is a steel fabrication welder in the back shop.

In addition to family, Hurd's employs nine other workers, all of whom receive medical, dental and retirement benefits.

Lisa said she and her husband hope sons Erik, 6, and Joshua, 4, will eventually be the fourth generation to run Hurd's. "They already like to take out the magnets and flat washers and play with them," she said.

HURD'S CUSTOM MACHINERY INC.

Address: 204 Moore St., Harrisburg

Founded: 1947, by J. Roscoe Hurd and Eleanor Detering Hurd

Annual Sales: $1.1 million

Family member partners: Glenn and Karen Hurd; daughter Lisa Hurd and husband Kevin Flieger

Other employees: 9

CAPTION(S):

The Hurd family began their business after World War II.
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Article Details
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Title Annotation:Business
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Date:Oct 23, 2005
Words:634
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