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COVER STORY Born for Business Curt Laingen, a natural entrepreneur


BY KELLY CARGILL ContributingWriter


A mother in Odin, Minnesota offers to go


into town and pick up supplies for the family farm. Her 11-year-old son makes out a list of things he needs then hands his mother a check. Taking the check and the list from her son, she realized the novelty of the situation. She turned to her husband and said, “I think we created a monster.”


That boy was no monster, simply a true


business man in the making. From the time Curt Laingen received his first cow from his grandfather at age 6 which quickly expanded to a small herd, no one could deny his innate capitalist abilities. “I think I was born an entrepreneur,”


Laingen said. Despite successful small business ventures through his adolescence, his mother, Laingen admits, was skeptical when he opened Curt Laingen Trucking in Butterfield, Minn. in 1973. “My mom didn’t like the idea of me going


“THE ASSOCIATION CAN CONTACT


REGULATORS AND POLITICIANS IN A WAY THATWE AS


INDIVIDUALS CAN’T DO,” LAINGEN SAID. “WE’RE SO BUSY


WITH OUR BUSINESS THATWE HAVE TO RELY ON MCM TO MAINTAIN THOSE RELATIONSHIPS FOR US.”


10


into trucking,” Laingen said. A week before his twenty-first birthday, Laingen went into the bank to get a loan to buy his very first truck. “They said it would be better if my dad would co-sign with me. But I told them if I asked him, he’d kick me out of the house!” Instead, the bank got creative and used an interesting form of collateral to qualify Laingen for the loan: 13 beef cows and 13 calves. Laingen’s affinity for trucks is rooted deep


in his childhood. “I always loved trucks,” Laingen said. “They were big and noisy. There was a gas transport driver who would drive around on the farm. I’d give him the honk- your-horn-sign and he’d honk and wave.” His first job as a truck driver came from a


neighbor. “He told me once I was old enough to get a chauffeur’s license he’d give me a job. I made enough money to pay my tuition so I did it again the next summer, too.” When he became his own boss, Laingen


hauled grain and then lumber until Curt Laingen Trucking grew into a 10-truck operation specializing in the transport of machinery and building materials throughout the west. In January 1986, Laingen was doing a


routine haul to Seattle when suddenly a new tire blew out. Waiting for the tire to be repaired, he occupied his time scouring the Sunday paper. “I used to tease myself with the classified section looking at jobs saying, ‘I can do that,’” Laingen said. “I think the only mistake my parents made in raising me was not telling


me there are some things I can’t do.” Despite success as the owner of a trucking


company, Laingen’s interest for business and the trucking industry as a whole kept him open to new career ventures. Looking through the paper, “There was an ad looking for help to start a commercial truck driving training program at the University of Montana, College of Technology.” He picked up the phone and called the program director. “I told him, ‘You can’t


ROADWISE | ISSUE 5, 2010 | www.mttrucking.org


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