Letter to the Editor

Feb. 6 - Your View

Monday, February 11, 2002

Our heartfelt thanks

In the early morning hours of Jan. 24, we lost in a fire the building that housed our truck equipment operation and administration. This letter is an attempt to thank the literally hundreds of people and businesses that lent their support.

The media coverage, while accurate, missed the "real story" beyond the fire of how friends, neighbors, suppliers, customers, family and employees worked to have us back in business within 48 hours.

It begins with our gratitude to the firefighters who did a miraculous job in containing the fire to just the one building while keeping the many spectators out of harm's way.

We thank friends like George and Mark Hobbs, Martin and Marty Priggel, Buzz and Frank Ferrell, all of whom made generous offers of their use of equipment or facilities. Friends like Julie Millington, Marietta Graviett, Helen Ezell, Manuel and Pat Drumm, Harvey and Yvonne McVay, and others who shuffled kids, ran errands, prepared food and performed the behind-the-scene tasks that allowed others to concentrate on the matters at hand. We thank our friends Robert Essner, Scott Wachter and the people of the Bank of Advance for their quick responses to our professional needs.

Many thanks goes out to our business neighbors, Richie Walker and Cookie Ferrenburg of R&R Convenience Store, Tutti and Robert Gosche of Morley Building Supply, John Wright and Tim Johnson of CPS Trailer, Bill Gosche and Dan Brase of Wiethop Truck Sales, Dan and Stan Elfrink of Elfrink Truck Lines and Don Curtis of Curtis Trucking, all of whom opened their hearts and doors by providing everything from storage trailers to hot refreshments for the firefighters. A special thanks to Jeff Limbaugh and Leon Eftink of Heartland Application for "moving out" of their facility so we could "move in."

We appreciate the quick response to our needs by suppliers like Merlin Hagy of Standard Printing, Jim Talley of Microcomputer Services, Tom Millburg of Cape Communication, Ed Bowen of Metalweld Inc., Brad Wilson of Jim Wilson Co., Alan Haman of Auto Tire and Parts, Southwestern Bell, AmerenUE and United Cities Gas.

We are grateful for the patience and understanding by our customers, some of whom lost their personal property to the fire. You have our promise of full recovery and continued service.

We thank the members of the Wheeler family who gave of their time and talents while dealing with the emotions of the loss. Our sisters, Teresa Wright and Kathy Jackson, along with Jody McVay, Chris Wheeler, Rachel Riggins, Traci and David Jones, Tommy Jackson, Amy and Eric David, our Mom, Blanche, and our wives, Linda and Janie.

Finally and mostly we are blessed with an extended family, our employees, who worked day and night coordinating and re-establishing our operation. Space does not permit listing each of you and our words could not express our gratitude, however, special recognition goes out to Mary Dell for her devotion.

To those noted in this letter and to the many not mentioned in our oversight, your efforts turned what appeared to be a major disaster into just another story in our 48-year history. Many of you recalled our grand opening of that building 25 years ago. The next story will be our grand reopening, in which you'll receive a special invitation.

God bless America.

Mike and Derek Wheeler

Wheeler Steel Works Inc.