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Wood City gets help from unexpected source

Pine Journal

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In the wake of a fire on Feb. 21, Cloquet’s Wood City Laundry probably would be all washed up were it not for the help from an unlikely benefactor.

Gary Tyman, proprietor of Wood City Laundry, referred to AmeriPride Linen & Apparel Service, a national commercial laundry chain with operations in Duluth, as “one of our fiercest competitors,” and yet this same business has come to the rescue in his hour of need.

A fire in the midst of a snowstorm that dropped more than a foot of snow on Cloquet burned Tyman’s 25-year business to the ground. The fire destroyed his building, and claimed all his commercial laundering equipment, including much of his inventory of rugs, mops, linens, uniforms and other items.

Desperate to keep their business afloat despite the devastating setback, Gary Tyman and his wife, Cindy, spent the first days after the fire washing, drying and folding items at a local coin-operated laundromat and then driving them to customers.

“When something of that magnitude happens, it’s really a physical shock. We were just trying to cope,” Cindy Tyman said.

“We were doing whatever we could just to sustain our business,” Gary Tyman said.

In the midst of this madness, Tyman recalled a meeting several months before with Dave Hardy, general manager of AmeriPride’s operations in Duluth, Hibbing and Bemidji. AmeriPride had expressed an interest in buying out Tyman’s business. When he declined the offer to discuss a possible sale, the visit ended amiably with Hardy’s admonition to let him know if he could ever be of service.

“On Friday afternoon, I gave Dave a call. I told him, we have no equipment, no building and no inventory,” Tyman said.

Hardy didn’t miss a beat. He told Tyman he’d do anything he could to help and asked him to stop by AmeriPride’s Duluth service center Monday morning.

“I remember he told me: We cannot let your business close,” Tyman said.

In 2010, AmeriPride had its own fire to contend with at its Duluth facility.

Hardy said he’s confident that if anything similar occurred in the future and the shoe were ever on the other foot again, AmeriPride could rely on Wood City Laundry to lend it a hand.

AmeriPride provided the Tymans with a couple of trucks and drivers Monday morning, a ready inventory of clean linens plus sundry other items and continued help laundering the items it collects from its customer routes.

So far, Gary Tyman said Wood City hasn’t lost any clients as a result of the fire. The business owner said he’s still waiting to hear how much his business insurance will cover, but he’s determined to put the laundry back on its feet. The company employs four people full-time, including the Tymans, and eight more on a part-time basis. He said no one has missed a paycheck yet as a result of the fire.

Subhed: City Ski meet rescheduled

The Cloquet City Ski Meet (for ski jumpers and cross country skiers) was postponed due to cold weather last Saturday and has been rescheduled for Sunday, March 9, at Cloquet’s Pine Valley.

It’s a great opportunity for spectators to come out and see local children jump off four different ski jumps, ranging in size from a 5-meter jump for the littlest ones built of snow to 10-, 20- and 40-meter jumps.  

The ski jumping competition in the City Ski Meet will begin at noon Sunday at the Joe Nowak Ski Area, while the Nordic ski races start with the kids race at 2 p.m., including a 500-meter race, a 2K classic race and a 2.5K skate ski race around the Mike Marciniak Ski Trails. Adult and big kids races start at 2:30 p.m. and will include a 5.5K skate and/or classic race and an 11K skate or classic race. Fees are $10 for adults, $5 for high school students, $3 for kids races and $5 for each hill jumped.

Registration will run from 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.