Saying Good-Bye To A Friend

Curt-lineby Curt Kovener

The news of the official closing of local manufacturer Regal Industries didn’t come as any great surprise. Those who travel by the business for the past several months could tell there were fewer cars in the parking lot and fewer semi trucks traveling along Main Street to the manufacturing plant.

In light of the successes of business expansion in the Crothersville Industrial Park, it is particularly sad when a long-time home-grown industry fades.

It is ironic that as jobs increase in Crothersville, businesses close. Take a drive along US 31 and count the number of empty and available retail business opportunities.

Working in the plant at Regal was hot work in the summer, cold work in the winter and dusty & dirty work year round. But the business put food on the table and kept a roof over the heads of scores of area residents.

The manufacturing process was to take newspapers and beat them to a pulp (some readers like to do that but in a different vein). Sometimes when the heated metal of the manufacturing process met too closely and too long with newspaper, fires started.

Several times when I served on the local volunteer fire department we would get a dispatch of “smoke coming from Regal”. Gratefully, it usually was a smoldering, smoky situation that looked worse than it was and was quickly extinguished. But on a couple of occasions there were flames and a more serious situation.

I recall one early November of getting a fire call to Regal “with flames showing.” It was in their manufacturing plant and multiple fire departments quickly responded. Employees using forklifts assisted firemen by getting bales of newspapers out of the building to be extinguished.

Even while firefighters were getting the fire and smoke under control, the business owners, Earl Murray and Sam Royalty, were in the company break room drawing up plans to rebuild. Within six weeks after the fire, damaged equipment was repaired and a tarp covered the building roof, but Regal was back in production.

The business owners later told me that they had to get back into production quickly as there were a lot of families depending on a Regal Industries paycheck so close to Christmas.

Besides both of us being home-grown, bootstrap Crothersville businesses, there was another bond between the Crothersville Times and Regal (other than they gladly took the newspaper when you were done reading it to make insulation).

Shortly after I bought the paper in the early 1980’s, Regal had a print shop downtown where company literature was printed. There was a printing press but they had to send out to have typesetting done. I had typesetting equipment for the newspaper but no place to put it. A conversation with Earl Murray and both of our problems were quickly solved. That assistance from Regal helped the Crothersville Times to become established.

We remained partners by a simple handshake until a fire destroyed the block northwest of the stoplight. The fire closed in the print shop and resulted in the newspaper moving to new quarters.

But the friendship and business alliance between us remained throughout the years. And that makes writing this week’s front page story and this column particularly sad.