Luke Curry

Owner, Curry Sawmill Co.

Son of a Sharecropper

As a child, all things are new. First word, first step, first day of school. Curry Custom Sawmill is new too—born out of a desire to honor a two-generation legacy that now forms its very foundation.

The legacy I speak of belongs to my dad. Some have asked why the name Curry Custom Sawmill? Well, when my dad decided to go into business for himself, he started it in a two-car garage in the backyard. It was his first machine shop. There was no front office. No receptionist. No one to even answer the phone. In fact, his business phone was the house phone. When it rang, it could be answered by Dad or any of his three children at the time. Even though he started out small, his vision was great. And his determination even greater.

That was the early 70s. The economy was fragile. There was a lot of unrest with the anti war movement and Watergate. It probably was not a great time to venture out on your own. But my dad was an entrepreneur. He knew what he wanted and could see in his mind the business he wanted to build. The business was originally called Curry’s Custom Machinery. It was incorporated in 1973, took on the new name of The Tool Room, Inc. and relocated on a 10 acre parcel of land in the country, right outside Fountain Inn. That’s where the shop continues to reside today, some 44 years later.

My father didn’t grow up with much. He loved to tell stories about how hard his family worked with not much to show for it. Being the son of a sharecropper was tough. They were dirt poor, but had an extremely strong work ethic. Dad recalled that even in the 1940s and 50s, they were still using a mule to till the soil and picking the cotton by hand. They were a poor family, but happy.

This work ethic could be seen throughout my dad’s life. With only a 10th grade education, people said he could never be a machinist. Instead of getting down about it, Dad used those rejections as fuel to drive his American dream of building his own business. And after many years of working 15-hour days, he finally achieved it—a successful, thriving business.

Dad passed away this passed past October—surrounded by his adoring family and faithful friends. He was 76 years old. He poured his life into the business, going to the shop everyday, until he physically/mentally couldn’t anymore. Those who knew him recognized that he worked hard, played hard and loved big. His bigger than life personality was known by many. His laugh was loud and contagious. And although the shop was his dream, his family was the apple of his eye. He loved them dearly and was a fierce protector of their welfare. After all, the success of the business was for them—to have the life he never had.

Instead of being bitter about how he grew up, Dad fought for a better life and future for his children and grandchildren. It’s something that inspires us kids even to this day. Dad once said that “life is like a dream. It’s here and then it’s gone.” Pretty wise words for a 10th grade education.

The Tool Room, Inc. is still running strong as the family embarks on a new adventure……Curry Custom Sawmill! Even though Dad’s not physically with us anymore, we feel his presence stirring us to continue his great legacy to “work hard, play hard and love big.”