The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA


December 31, 2013

Keller Marine rises from ashes following devastating fire

PORT TREVORTON — Persistence, a belief in God, and the hard work of 77 employees have paid off for the owners of Keller Marine & RV — proving that not even a disastrous six-alarm fire on March 22, which burned down their warehouse housing millions of dollars of inventory, could destroy their spirit and determination to rebuild a successful and thriving business.

A new, 20,000-square-foot warehouse is being built on the site where the old one burned down. Meanwhile, a makeshift warehouse built over a parking lot now houses much of the inventory that is the core of the business —  boat and recreational vehicle accessories.

Keller’s information technology crew was able to keep the company computers in working order throughout the crisis and by the Monday morning after the Friday fire, a new office area was established in one of several buildings that had been used as a conference center.

“Everyone was back at work the Monday,” said Michael Keller, a co-owner of the company along with his sister, Lori Morrow. “Those first few weeks, we worked 90 hours. Our employees were great. We’d all start at 4:30 a.m. and finish after midnight.”

The company usually fills its orders at a 95 percent rate, Keller said. “Immediately after the fire, our rate was 25 percent, it was dismal. Some people thought we’d go out of business. Our competitors said we were done. A lot of our own people even wondered if we were going to keep going. But our people pulled together.”

Keller said it never entered his mind to close the business down, one that his father started in 1958.

“My sister and I never gave a thought to quitting,” Keller said.

By June of this year, they had turned a corner and their fill rate was back to 95 percent.

“Still, it was a tough year, 2013,” Keller said. “Our business was down 7 percent. But considering all that happened we have felt real fortunate and blessed to be in the position we are in now. Next year, we want to be up and I think we can be. In many ways, due to the fire, we had to reinvent the business. But we did. You learn about crisis management in school, but until it happens it’s only book learning. In our situation, we had to do what we had to do to survive.  And we did that. We survived.”

There were also lessons learned over the past year, Keller said.

“We have great people working for us, very dedicated,” he said. “But I think they also learned something about the Keller family as well and our commitment to this business and to this community.”

Text Only
  • VanKirk 'Real hero' of World War II dies

    ATLANTA, Ga. — Theodore “Dutch” VanKirk, the last surviving crew member of the Enola Gay, which dropped the first atomic bomb on Hiroshima, died Monday of natural causes in the retirement home where he lived in Georgia. He was 93.

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • Mayor: Rental ban for drug dealers a success

    SUNBURY — A controversial landlord-tenant ordinance passed by the City Council in 2012 has become one of Sunbury’s “better success stories,” Mayor David Persing said Tuesday.

    July 29, 2014

  • Mom cited for allegedly leaving baby in car for 12 minutes

    LEWISBURG — A summary citation carrying a maximum fine of $127.50 was filed Tuesday against a Lewisburg woman accused of leaving her 10-month-old baby unattended for 12 minutes in a car in Union County on July 21.

    July 29, 2014

  • Line Mountain district, teachers $1.2M apart in contract talks

    MANDATA — Separate proposals from the Line Mountain School District and its teachers union are $1.2 million apart and not getting any closer, according to Benjamin L. Pratt, the district’s labor counsel at the CGA Law Firm.

    July 29, 2014

  • Road work: Expect traffic delays on Route 54 near Danville

    RIVERSIDE — Motorists in the Danville-Riverside area are advised that a 2.2-mile micro-surfacing project on Route 54 from Riverside borough to Boyd Station in Northumberland County will begin this afternoon.

    July 29, 2014

  • Blood trail leads to stabbing suspect in Montour County

    DANVILLE — Borough police followed a trail of blood along a sidewalk, up a staircase and down a hallway that led to a moaning woman who they say knifed another woman Sunday night.

    July 29, 2014

  • Spencer_Maria1.jpg Maria Spencer charged with murdering her ex-husband

    SELINSGROVE — On Monday, a little more than two years after Frank Spencer was executed outside his Columbia County home, his former wife and her father were charged in his murder and the attempted homicide of Spencer’s girlfriend.

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • Opponents, supporters to discuss clean air rules

    DENVER — Hundreds of people are expected to attend public hearings this week in a handful of cities across the U.S. to tell federal regulators what they think of proposed rules to cut pollution from power plants.

    July 29, 2014

  • House-Senate negotiators approve $17B VA bill

    WASHINGTON  — House and Senate negotiators have approved a $17 billion compromise bill to overhaul the Department of Veterans Affairs and reform a program scandalized by veterans’ long waits for health care and VA workers falsifying records to cover up delays.

    July 29, 2014

  • Airlines work to avoid plane crashes as air traffic doubles

    NEW YORK — More travelers are flying than ever before, creating a daunting challenge for airlines: keep passengers safe in an ever more crowded airspace.

    July 29, 2014

The Daily Marquee

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.