Much has happened since Red shared his story back in 2009 at the big 50th Anniversary celebration. Red was concerned because at that time he had heard that there was a recession (whatever that was). He heard some guys talking at break time about how the new home construction had come to a stand-still. Suddenly all the sales and orders came to abrupt stop, dropping by half in one month’s time. That kind of change caused him to shiver down into the depths of the muffler system. He had whispered that he thought that APM could make it through this rough time. He thought that they could get through it, felt sure that the team could make it happen. He knew that they could succeed with hard work and a little prayer.
Red’s anxiety got a little high as he heard about the losses and lack of sales. People had stopped buying trusses and panels for homes. He was glad that the farmers were still building barns but things didn’t look too promising. One of Red’s pigeon friends told him that the closing of the West Virginia plant and the New Enterprise store was helping to get things into a better place, from what she had heard. So, Red’s anxiety level in his carburetor seemed to settle down and he was a little less choked up. He kept reminding himself that the APM team could do the things that would be necessary to move on into the future.
Over time, Red was feeling less anxious and more confident that the necessary changes would happen to make APM stronger. Little by little, improvements were made. He was pleased to make it out of storage each year to visit the anniversary events at the stores with the APM team members and customers who would come out to celebrate another milestone. He liked to toot his horn to cheer along the team working to bring APM back to profitability. Year after year these slow and steady steps were heading them in the right direction. He would just hum along on his trips to and from Lewistown, Allensville and Huntingdon to greet and proudly display the good old APM determination and values that kept them moving forward.
Red was feeling more and more like his old, care-free self, without all that anxiety. Then he happened to overhear several pigeons talking about his old friend Karl. He could hear them gossiping back and forth and wasn’t quite sure what they were saying. So Red ask them to quit their whispering and speak up. It gave him a jolt because he could tell by the way that they were talking that the news wasn’t good. Sally, the older, chattier, one said that she heard from Clara who had heard the word from some other pigeon “that Karl had had a slight stroke.” Red had to check his ear – he couldn’t believe that his old buddy Karl who had driven him and pushed him hard for all those years had had a stroke. He got all choked up and concerned that his owner Karl had had this setback. He wanted to learn more about what was going on, so he perked up his engine to find out the facts. It concerned him that Karl didn’t come around anymore to check on him. Red was no longer used every day for a delivery or for traveling to a job site. What he deduced was that Karl was getting to be a bit more like his old buddy – not quite as perky or active. One of the pigeons said that Karl went to Valley View to be in Assisted Living because it was getting hard for him to be at home. Red figured out (after listening in on another break-time conversation) that part of the reason Karl had moved was so that he could be close to his wife Louise, who wasn’t doing well, and had already been living at the nursing home for some time.
The days seemed to pass a little slower for Red now that he was sitting in storage instead of being in the center of the delivery and sales action. Over the years, he had loved the rush of the engine and squeal of the tires as he went to a job site with Ray Peachey, or was used to make a delivery. He could feel the determination and push from Karl as he encouraged the rest of the team to keep busy and get something done. Now those memories would bring a grin to his front grill as he thought back to those good old days. It would warm his transmission to hear that the APM team was continuing to make progress toward being profitable and increasing sales.
One day, Red was surprised to feel his springs and shocks being stretched, as he was brought out of storage to be all cleaned and polished. They put him on another truck, which he heard them say was called a rollback truck. He found himself being hauled over several mountains to an event called Ag Progress. Red was confused, and wondered if they were going to ask him to make another delivery at this event. It didn’t make sense to him, but he just went along. He found out that APM had a building there to meet with customers during this big Agricultural Event with thousands and thousands of people coming to learn what was happening in Agriculture. He heard Lynn, Scott and Vic talk with customers about the various products and services APM has to offer the farmer. All of a sudden Red realized that he was in the spot light with all these people stopping to admire him and check him out like he was some special antique. It made Red feel like he was useful again, somehow helping the APM team rather than just sitting off in some hidden truck bay. Over the days that he sat at Ag Progress, he saw many familiar customers and friends from years gone by. It was great to once again feel like his red frame had value and worth. He was thrilled to have this opportunity and glad that it didn’t turn out to be a one-time event.
Each year he would travel to the APM stores to help celebrate the company’s anniversary. He always looked forward to the trip that went from Lewistown to Huntingdon, with a stop at the Allensville store. On one of those trips, he was excited by the surprise he experienced when he got to stop at the place where Karl’s new home. Karl came out to see Red and check him over, but Red noticed that Karl was now using a cane to get around. Red could feel Karl’s pride as he ran his hand over the red paint and reminisced about the fine times they had shared together. It felt so good to have Karl pat the fender and get a twinkle in his eye. They shared so many memories, both good and bad over the years as they worked together with determination to live out the values of honesty and quality, and built a team that was customer-focused and results-based. Red’s day was made each time he was able to be out at the stores visiting with the APM team and customers, but seeing Karl once again was hard to beat!
One morning, Red was awakened by someone starting his engine. One of Karl’s grandsons was taking him to get a bath. He thought that this must be another APM event that he was getting scrubbed and shined to participate in. After he was bathed and sitting sparkling in the sun, he heard shocking news. Karl, his owner, had died from a massive stroke. Red was stunned that his friend and buddy was no longer alive. How could he go on without Karl? Yes, they were both kind of in places that allowed them to slow down and not be pushed as hard. But to think about no longer ever seeing Karl brought lots of grief. As he quietly listened to get the details, Red found out that he would have the chance to haul Karl’s casket from the church to the cemetery. It made Red glow with pride and pleasure to once again be used to help his friend Karl. So, he was driven to the church and parked behind the hearse that was all shiny and new. These men came out after while carrying Karl’s casket, and gently placed him in Red’s bed. Karl’s casket was bigger than his bed so they had to leave his tail gate down. Red sure hoped that Karl wouldn’t slide off the back on his trip around town.
Once again, Karl and he would ride around the town of Allensville, remembering all of the good times that they had shared over the years as they worked together to take care of the customers, both near and far. Red was so thrilled that he could once again be useful to his good friend Karl. Tears slipped out of his headlights as he was moved with the grief of all those memories, those years that they shared together fender to side. His mind swirled back over the nearly 60 years of serving APM together as they shared their final drive down Rt 655.
Not too much timed passed after that ride until Red again heard those busy-body pigeons talking. This time they were talking about plans being in the works for a big party to celebrate the 60 years that APM has been around. They said that the 60th Anniversary was a special time to clarify APM's values and uniqueness through sharing it with employees, customers, and community. Red was excited to know that he would get to be involved in making that happen at the Contractor Night on April 4th, as well as some special retail celebrations on May 11th and October 26th at each of the stores. The crazy birds were also saying that there was going to be a Christmas party in February, which made no sense to Red. But, he knows that the pigeons at times get their gossip all mixed up. He heard that they are working on some other plans to help APM be more visible and well-known in the community. Red was glad to hear that lots of events are planned to celebrate this big occasion throughout the year and not just a one-day event to celebrate the opening of APM on that first day of April back in 1959.
Red gave a big sigh over all the emotions that had circulated through his engine - from sadness and grief to joy and celebration. He was amazed at how the APM team continues to move forward, not dwelling on the hard times, but looking forward to the future. He knew that he and the APM team would keep working at it, thinking they can, knowing they can, and making it happen along the way with prayer, hard work, and determination.