Three Open Doors: Former CSX Workers Build Futures with Their Own Companies | New

ASHLAND The closure of CSX stores in Raceland marked the end of an era, but marked a new beginning for some, including three men who took the opportunity to start their own business: Perry Burke’s Sergeant Burke’s Equipment Repair, Kenny Diedrich’s Hammer & Mud and Blake Runnels performance and maintenance.

At Sergeant Burke’s

Perry Burke, 35, has always had a knack for understanding how things work, a bonus for his job at United States Marine Crops as an F-18 mechanic.

The Boyd County native said it was different from the heavy equipment he works on now.

“I’m self-taught,” he says. “I can learn easily by reading, so I can pick up a textbook and read it and learn.”

His business focuses on the maintenance and repair of industrial, construction and agricultural equipment, including skid steer loaders, mini excavators, loaders, man lifts, material lifts such as forklifts on and off-road, bucket trucks, bulldozers, air compressors, generators and agricultural tractors.

“Pretty much anything with an industrial engine,” he said, noting that he can work in his shop or on the job site, but doesn’t make road calls.

After leaving CSX he worked for John Deere for a few years and at United Rentals before opening his own business in May of this year.

“I’ve been here full-time since August,” he says. “I took a vacation in July because I knew I would be busy.”

This is because it is one of the few independent companies, perhaps the only one, to service heavy machinery. He said it was a dubious proposition.

“You could call one of the biggest companies here, and you could get a good mechanic or you could get a brand new guy, and that’s expensive,” Burke said, noting he could do the same. work he had done but doing it. for his own business.

Because mobile mechanic is one of the 30 most dangerous jobs, Burke said he keeps safety in mind at all times.

It also offers electronic diagnostics on diesel engines.

He said he planned to hire another mechanic at some point.

Sergeant Burke’s is at 18351 Bear Creek Road in Catlettsburg.

For more information, call or text Burke at (606) 585-2681.

Channel performance and maintenance

When the CSX stores in Russell closed in the spring of 2019, Blake Runnels decided to make what were side jobs his own business.

Runnels Performance and Maintenance, a heavy truck and fleet service and repair, is located at 1515 Wollohan Drive. The 36-year-old said he was driving to the location of the vehicle(s), as far as Portsmouth and Barboursville.

“It saves a towing bill, and towing heavy equipment isn’t cheap,” he said, noting it’s usually around $500 plus mileage.

He said he likes the control he has working for himself.

“It’s a bit of having your own schedule,” he said. “You get to make the last call on things.”

He said he got a taste of owning a business when his father, Paul Runnels, owned The Chimney Corner, so he also knew the responsibilities.

He said he believed he was filling a need in the area.

“There aren’t a lot of fleet services there, until you get to Huntington or nationally,” he said. “They usually deal with large fleet accounts. There aren’t a ton of fleet management companies in the area that go out and find the smaller fleets.

One problem he faces is convincing people to spend money on maintaining their vehicles.

“People hate spending money on a vehicle, but from a fleet perspective, you have to think of it as almost another employee,” Runnels said. “You have to maintain the vehicles to be able to keep making money. In the long run, just changing small things will pay off big. Many fleet vehicles never stop moving. »

He said he has one full-time employee and one part-timer who will soon become full-time. He then plans to hire an accountant.

“I want to develop it and develop it. I feel like there is work to be done, but I don’t have the manpower to do it right now.

For more information, call Runnels at (606) 465-7785.

hammer and mud

Kenny Diedrich, owner of Hammer & Mud, said his Ashland-based handyman service started out offering mud, tape and drywall plaster repairs, but now does a wide variety of renovations.

Diedrich, 51, opened Hammer & Mud last year.

“I kind of tried at first and wondered if there was an opportunity there, and it took off,” he said, noting that he also worked at the Huntington workshop. , but that he had been fired. It was then that he took his own business seriously.

The Air Force veteran said when he was working in the mud, it was easy to find work.

“Nobody wanted to do that, it’s very demanding and physical, so at that time I could do my own check,” Diedrich said.

Now he has an assistant in his nephew, Josh Salisbury.

“Josh had just been laid off and was working at a job he didn’t like, and I invited him to try it out,” he said. “He joined me and we haven’t looked back since.”

It was then that they decided to expand the business to include interior repair and renovation. Salisbury serves as project manager, covering estimates and planning, while Diedrich handles paperwork. The company employs four people in total.

“I hope it will be his when I retire,” he said.

For more information, call (606) 232-2346.

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