Doug: So then after the war, when you came back—now did you have a girlfriend while you were—
Glen: I was married!
Doug: You are married the whole time?
Glen: Yeah, I got married in January of the former year.
Doug: So before you went into the Air Corps—
Glen: Yeah, I was married almost a year when I went in. When we came back—I had a brother four years younger than I—we were the best of buddies—and he and I started the ready mix plant in Goshen. That would have been about ’47 or ’48—probably ’47.
Doug: And that was the one out on Logan Avenue, you said?
Glen: Logan, you know where Logan is? You know, it’s now filled up. Then, it was an industrial—Shasta Trailer was being built back there, then. And Logan Fuel was back there.
Well, that—I had to borrow—I had to go to Salem Bank—I don’t think you can print this—I had to go to Salem Bank, because I needed forty thousand to start that ready mix plant. And Ed Stout was the head loan officer, and he said, “No, I can’t loan you the money, Glen. He said that will never go in Goshen.”
So I went to Elkhart and got a hold of a guy by the name of Lloyd Minnix(??). He loaned me the forty thousand. And we kept the employees on during the winter, and paid them full wages, so they could live, and we would have them for the spring. Well, I couldn’t meet the payments. So I got a letter from the First National Bank of Elkhart—they were going to take all the trucks and the ready mix plant.
And I got all excited. I knew a guy by the name of Bill Kerfin(??) who owned National Plywood, and he supplied us at the trailer industry. And he had an office in Chicago—he lived in Chicago. So I jumped in the car and went to Chicago—called him, of course—and he took me to his bank. It was a huge bank, right downtown. We walked up these steps—I never will forget, real wide, and had a couple of guards standing up at the top—and into the president of the bank’s office. And Bill Kerfin said, “Tell him your story.”
And I did. And he leaned back in his chair and laughed. He said, “You’re from a small town, Glen. They don’t want your ready mix plant. Go back and get the papers, take them in, and throw it on his desk and say, There you are.” He said, “They’ll redo your loan to your satisfaction. Figure out what you want, and they’ll redo it.”
So that’s what I did, and that’s what happened.
Doug: So you would’ve still been in your twenties, back then, if it would’ve been in the late forties?
Glen: Yeah, that would have been about ’48, probably. We sold out to Lewis in ’54.
Doug: So you were the first ready mix plant in Goshen?
Glen: Oh yeah.
Doug: So, did that help contribute to the growth of Goshen as a community, do you think? Did having a ready mix company in Goshen—how did that affect the local economy? Was that necessary? The fifties were a time of—
Glen: Oh, the ready mix plant really boomed, Doug. Yeah, it was—I made a mistake by selling it to Lewis Fidler. But the circumstances at the time kind of forced that sale. But, you know Lewis, he moved that plant. He built a plant out by his gravel pit. We were buying sand and gravel—what I should have done was merge it with him. But, that’s all hindsight, you know.
Doug: Have you been out to Fidler Pond since that has opened?
Glen: No, I have not. No. Then—
That’s the best part of my life, I guess.
Doug: Yeah. I know you said those were all Elkhart County area experiences. But then in later years, you spent time around a lot of different places working for other people, running plants in California and Florida and—
Glen: No. I never did much in Goshen after I sold the ready mix plant. I got a job with Skyline; they had a plant in Howe, Indiana. It was a remodeled chicken house; they dug the floor out and recessed it enough that they could run a line of trailers down through it. Well, Art Decio and a carload of his honchos showed up one day and said, “Glen, we’re going to build you a new plant. Where do you want it?” I said, “Well, there’s a vacant spot up by the toll road.” So they bought that spot and built us a new plant.
The new plant could get fourteen in the line. It was run sideways line, you know. And Riblet built a frame shop down there, next to that plant. After we were going—you’d get fourteen in a line, and the rule of thumb is if you get fourteen in the line, you get fourteen a day out. Well, we were getting twenty a day out. And you know, we were behind on orders. We didn’t have room to store the material—we had trucks lined up all the time every day, delivering material. So Art told everybody at Skyline, “Leave Glen alone.”
So that was a really successful operation. I think I left that in—I think it was ’79.
Doug: That’s where they were building single-wides?
Glen: Single-wides; twelve-wides. Yeah.
Doug: And didn’t you do something to increase the size of the unit there?
Glen: Oh. Yeah. We started building a fourteen-wide. That meant the rack—you had racks that lowered on a twelve-wide to work on the roof. That meant those racks had to expand 1 foot on each side. And Skyline was working on that, to do that. And I was standing out there looking at that one day. We had a guy whose name was Bill Lyons, a maintenance man. Bill was single, kind of dirty, but he was kind of a genius on maintenance.
He come up and he said, “What are you looking at, Glen?” So I said, “Well, I’m trying to figure out how to spread that rack a foot on each side, so it got two more feet to build a [fourteen-wide] trailer.” And he said, “Well, do this, this, this”—so all he did was put a cam up there that you pulled a lever, twisted the cam, and spread them out, you know? They were already built for that. Then pull it the other way, and it pulled them back together. You had to redo it a little bit—you had to put in some driveshafts, you know?
So from then on, the ironworks in Lagrange that furnished me all the material to do that, Skyline got all of this for all their plants—got the parts from them. So that was good for them.
Doug: So who were some of the industry leaders that you worked with who might have had an influence on you—or you had an influence on them? You mentioned Wilber Schult—
Glen: Stewart Gardner; Stewart Coach.
I started a factory of my own in Syracuse, but I had to sell it. And why did I have to sell that? Oh—because my brother stayed in the service; they called him back in the service, and so I had to go back to Goshen and run the ready mix plant.
And I was with North American Marine for a while—their sales manager. I remember in—why can’t I think of the year? Bob Myers(??)—Bob Myers, and his wife’s name was Toni—And we got to be the best of friends.
But anyway, I went into—I had a list: the type of boat, and the colors, and the whole thing, for the year in advance. So I went into the office and told Bobby, I said, “I think you got a depression coming.”
Doug: This was for what product? Was this for—
Glen: This was a boat company.
Doug: A boat company.
Glen: Yeah. I said, “I think we better cut production and make just what we know we could get sold.”
“Oh no,” he said, “Go ahead and make up a—go ahead and make up the future order. We’re going to be okay.”
So I said, “Okay, I’ll see you through the first show.” So after the first show—I forget what I did, but I left. Three months later, that plant was broke. They discontinued operation.
Oh, I know what I did. I got with the guy that was importing stuff from Japan. And I opened up a plant that had mobile home and boat hardware. And I opened it up in a building that was used as a storage building for a moving company down on Third Street.
Doug: This is in Goshen?
Glen: Yeah, in Goshen. And it proved out real well for me.
Doug: You were involved with houseboats at one point?
Glen: Oh, I designed a houseboat from the ground up. And my brother, Charles, had a plant in Middlebury making trailers—boat trailers. And he had room, and I built it there. This houseboat had floats on it, and you could pull them in and make it a ten-wide. Ten? I think it was eight—make it an eight-wide for traveling—no, a ten-wide for traveling. Once you got there and unloaded the trailer, the two floats pushed down on each side and made a twelve-wide out of it. So it had a walkway around the whole cabin.
Well, I had a dealer in Florida. I think he probably—between a couple dealers, they sold about a half a dozen of them, and then the bottom dropped out of the economy. And I dropped that and did something else. But anyway, there was an outfit in Tennessee that bought one of them and saved it. And after the economy started picking up, they started building the same boat, and boom! But I never patented anything that I started.
And the plant in California, Marner and I owned that together.
Doug: And Marner was what relation to you?
Glen: Marner was a half-uncle—he was a half-brother to my dad; Marner Miller? He had Travel Equipment.
Doug: Yes. And he also had the ambulance company at one point.
Glen: Well, that was part of Travel Equipment. Yeah, that’s another story—I remember when he was thinking about selling it, and I advised him not to.
Anyway, that plant in California was really unique. They would take a Dodge minivan and spread it 14 inches. They would cut the thing in two on the passenger side, full length—front axle, rear axle, everything—and then put it back together fourteen inches wider. That way you could make a bus out of it and sit two people on each side, instead of two and one, see.
Doug: So this would have been early in the van conversion business.
Glen: So we were doing that. We did the same thing with a mini motorhome. We put the chassis up there, cut into lengthwise, widened it out fourteen inches, so our mini motorhomes were fourteen inches wider than a regular one. Well, I think it took me eight months to make that company profitable.
Ebe Yoder was my sales manager, by the way. And Marner, one day—Marner was paying them—TEC was carrying the insurance, and Marner was doing the payroll—simply because he had an office and a way to do it. He called me one day and he said, “I’m out of money, Glen. Close the plant.”
Well, you know, he was meeting and buying the materials—he was furnishing the cash to buy the materials. So I called a guy in Nappanee that was trying to get to be the biggest in the industry. And—what was his name? He would come out to see Abe, once in a while. Anyway, I told him “You ought to have a business in California.”
He said, “I’ve been thinking about that, Glen, what have you got in mind?”
I said, “I’ll tell you what. You come out; I’ll take inventory; you pay me for the inventory; and it’s yours.”
So, he said, “I’ll be out next week.” So he showed up with a guy and his wife and a kid in the car—so I knew he was going to buy. Well, the sale didn’t amount to anything, it was only $380,000 worth of material and stuff. But at least it salvaged Marner a little bit.
And then, I called back—and so I didn’t have anything to do. So that’s when I started doing options again.
Options came out in 1973, and I don’t really know why they came out with it. Mid-1973. I even went to Chicago at that time—took lessons. So every time I didn’t have anything to do, I would do options on the market. So I’ve done them all (laughs).