International Door & Operator Industry

JUL-AUG 2013

Garage door industry magazine for garage door dealers, garage door manufacturers, garage door distributors, garage door installers, loading docks, garage door operators and openers, gates, and tools for the door industry.

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doorDeaLerdialog Next we met an absolutely beautiful couple, Ken and Kathy Knippel, the owners of the business, along with Eugene and Gina Crumpton, General Managers. Gina is the daughter of Ken and Kathy. After being served coffee, we sat down for what resulted in an enjoyable and enlightening visit. For some readers, you may recall the name Ed Vesbach, a recipient of the IDA Technician of the Year Award in 2011. Mr. Vesbach is a senior employee of the Joe Wilde Company, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, receiving his IDA recognition at the age of 90+. Ken Knippel became friends with Ed when he was hired to sweep foors at the same company in September of 1956 at .75 an hour, and soon received an increase to $1.25. Upon learning of his raise, Ken's mother remarked, "Oh, my gosh, how much more money can a man make?" Ken was only 16 years of age, and had recently quit school in the 8th grade following the sudden death of his father, Fritz. Ken had to grow up fast as he quickly became the bread winner in his family. He didn't sweep foors for long as he soon learned from the best how to install and service garage doors and openers. Ken shared how Joe Wilde not only hired him, but ultimately became a father fgure. "Joe Wilde taught me a trade, how to weld, and corrected me when I did something wrong," stated Ken. The major products produced and distributed by the company were wood Crawford doors and Scientifc openers. Ken admits that he was a bit ornery in his early doorman days. He shared a story how he took a company delivery truck (box type) to town one evening and flled it with 14 young ladies. While driving down the main street of town at midnight, he was quickly pulled over by police. A stern, Joe Wilde soon arrived at the police station in his straw hat. He had Ken released and didn't actually discipline him although an unspoken and penetrating message of 'never do this again' was most defnitely acknowledged. It was interesting to learn that while at the Joe Wilde Company, Ken trained a new employee, Bob Lindmark, at the time, a returning Viet Nam veteran. Bob ultimately started his own business, Hartland Overhead Door Company, which was subsequently purchased by his two sons' Chris and Joe. Hartland was recognized during the 2013 President's Awards Banquet as the recipient of the IDA Joe Caputo Dealer of the Year award. Little did Ken know that his training talents would ultimately lead to the establishment of another high-quality door dealer and IDA member. Ken's tenure at the company wasn't brief, as he worked for Mr. Wilde for 28 years. In 1984, Ken decided it was time to open his own business, and created Knippel Overhead Door in Wisconsin. He ran the business until 1990 when he moved to Hendersonville and opened Dixie Door. This year, Ken celebrates 57 Continued on page 18 V o l u m e 4 6 i s s u e 4 2 0 1 3 17

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