A framed photo hung at Currie Chain Saw Inc. in Lumberton shows the calamitous flooding that smothered the city after Hurricane Matthew in 2016. The Lumber River overflowed around a dike, tumbled down the railroad track and entered the family-owned business, resulting in 33 inches of water in the building.
"I'd never seen water come across the street here, even before the dike," says Nancy Pittman, Curries corporate treasurer. She's been with the company since 1979 and is a part-owner with her brothers William and John.
A friend took the aerial photo that has become an inspirational, daily reminder of perseverance for a company that is accustomed to outsmarting adversity. Through two hurricanes, a fire, theft and even devastation from a family death, resiliency reigns. Pittman says positive thinking is mandatory.
"In the beginning [after Matthew], we kind of looked at each other and said, we're really tied into this business. Do we sink or swim? And sinking was not an option," Pittman says. "You put everything you've got into surviving. You get discouraged, but you don't have that option either."
Currie Chain Saw sells Honda ATVs, motorcycles and utility vehicles; Honda power equipment such as generators, pumps, snow blowers and tillers; and Suzuki ATVs, motorcycles and scooters. The business was started by Pittman's father, Robert Currie Sr., who started it all by selling chainsaws and other small-engine items.
Now, his children have taken over. Pittman's brother William runs the small-engine and lawn tools departments while John oversees motorcycle sales. Their oldest brother, Bob, was company president until 2016--he died from brain cancer that February.
"It was sudden, and unexpected," Pittman says. "While he was sick, he was constantly updating us on his aspects of the business. Our insurance was due in April and we knew Bob was pretty much on top of things, so we didn't make any changes. The policy was, like, 195 pages."
But then Matthew hit that following October. When police started letting property owners back into their businesses, the business s insurance agent showed up with bad news for the siblings--they weren't covered for any of the damage.
Matthew cost about $3 million in lost inventory and potential income, including 186 motorcycles worth a total of $2 million. Looters broke storefront windows. Gas leaked from bikes. "We don't know what floated out, and what people stole and went out with. We found stuff in fields, down...