40 years later, Campbell family is still moving houses
When Jerry Campbell Sr. co-founded C-B Movers in 1978, little did he know the family business would last more than 40 years with three generations of Campbells working there.
Today, Campbell and his wife, Doris, are retired, though he still does errands for the company that relocates buildings and lifts structures for new foundations and basements. Their oldest son, Jerry Campbell Jr., and his wife, Linda, own the family business based off County Road 1 west of Pequot Lakes. Their son, Waylon, and nephew, Dustin - the third generation of Campbells - also work for C-B Movers.
"Dad pretty much always had it in mind - it was Dad's dream for us to take it over and run it," Campbell Jr. said of himself and his brothers.
The three brothers — Jerry Jr., Mike and Basil — all worked for their dad. In 1990, Jerry Jr. and Mike bought the company from their parents. In 2005, Jerry Jr. and Linda became the sole owners.
"I like helping people," Jerry Jr. said of continuing with the business. "I like dealing with customers and trying to provide a good service for them."
Jerry Sr. was working at the former Durkee Manufacturing in Pine River when the opportunity to change careers arose. Doris's sister had bought a cabin that needed to be moved from Crow Wing State Park.
"Dad pretty much did what he could do to help her," Jerry Jr. said. "He borrowed some jacks from a guy, loaded it on a trailer and moved it."
That "guy" asked Jerry Sr. to buy his business. After some consideration, he did just that, saying he always wanted to be his own boss. He partnered with Glen Bjoraker, and thus C-B Movers got its name using the first letters of both men's last names.
Jerry Jr. was in eighth grade then and started helping his dad at work in the summers.
"When they were working, I was there. Dad and I basically learned together," he said.
After graduating from Pine River-Backus High School in 1982, he joined his dad at C-B Movers.
His father was always a good welder and made the equipment needed to move buildings. In the early days, they used wooden beams to support structures. That evolved into using steel beams.
C-B Movers serves central Minnesota but does travel across the state to move buildings. Taking jobs farther away did become necessary during the 2008 recession, but the business survived.
C-B Movers moves various types of buildings, from yard sheds, pole buildings and garages to cabins, houses and barns. For 10 years the company worked with Verndale Custom Homes, and thus started specializing in moving rambler homes. Jerry Jr. said he's moved 550 Verndale Homes. That company now has a new owner and C-B Movers is working with them again.
The business has moved buildings for area resorts, including Madden's and most recently Grand View Lodge. A recent challenge was moving a residential house from Pelican Lake to Lake Margaret.
"I told him, there's no way to move this thing unless we can cut it in two," Jerry Jr. said, noting they cut the house in half lengthwise and set each half on a basement. "It was remarkable how it turned out. You'd never know it was moved."
The job is not just about moving buildings. It includes contacting power companies, getting the necessary permits and police escorts. And the rise in roundabouts on roads presents new challenges.
"Roundabouts are an enemy of house moving," Jerry Jr. said.
Contacting the correct power companies can be burdensome. One 20-mile haul involved five different power companies that had lines along the route, Jerry Jr. said. He's working with first responders to try to get state legislation that would require power companies to put their nameplates on power poles.
C-B Movers has year-round work, but May-December is the busiest with many 60- to 70-hour work weeks.
"It signals go-time when (road) restrictions are off (May 15)," Jerry Jr. said.
He said house movers are known as "original recyclers" because they repurpose buildings instead of tearing them down and depositing them into landfills.
Jerry Sr. said the company has come quite a long way from when he first started it. He and Doris live next door to the business on County Road 1 in a home they moved there from Gull Lake.
They're happy to see their oldest son keep the family business going and are hopeful the third generation will do the same.
"I like the work," Jerry Jr. said. "I like the challenge of it. It's hard work, there's no doubt about it. Our family has always enjoyed the gratification that comes with hard work."