Guest Editorials

Reflections: Chuck Piepmeier Looks Back On 35 Years At McGinnis

By Chuck Piepmeier
Retired information systems manager for McGinnis Inc.

Chuck Piepmeier, retired information systems manager for McGinnis Inc., stands with a painting of his namesake vessel. (Photo courtesy ofMcGinnis Inc.)
Chuck Piepmeier, retired information systems manager for McGinnis Inc., stands with a painting of his namesake vessel. (Photo courtesy of McGinnis Inc.)

I fell in love with the Ohio River at an early age. I loved watching the towboats going by. I enjoyed seeing Big Bill Kinzler and Capt. John Beatty most weekends after my allergy treatments. They let me take short trips on their tugs. I went to work for Ashland Oil as a deckhand. I didn’t care for being gone for 28 days, so I left and started my soft drink career.

I was a route salesman for Coke, then a route supervisor for Pepsi, and then a manager for 7up/RC. I went to college, earning a degree in computer science and a degree in business. While going to college, I worked for the Vevay (Indiana) Police Department. From there, I worked in the business department for Ivy Tech and became an instructor of computer programming.

I started driving a hot shot over the Midwest and doing craft shows. Finally, my dad, Wally Piepmeier, who worked for Neare Gibbs & Co., told me that a customer of his, Doug McGinnis of McGinnis Marine, was looking for a dispatcher. He said McGinnis was a good and safe company. I settled down in my rewarding career with McGinnis on June 6, 1988.

In the early days, we kept track of fleeting on index cards and handwritten billing that was sent up to our home office in South Point, Ohio. Within a year, we switched to computers, and I was happy to share my knowledge and experience, helping Phyllis Lauder and Scott from Reynolds & Reynolds set up our R-Base system for fleeting and towing.

I also wrote and implemented a random drug test program and a database to track our environmental impacts and waste through the direction of Bruce McGinnis. I have worn almost every hat in our division. We not only dispatched, but we were also in customer relations with docks and barge lines. I truly believe you’re only as good as the people surrounding you. I could always tap the knowledge of our great captains, coworkers, management and customers. I have always been open to better ways of servicing our customers and vendors.

Mr. Bruce McGinnis has been a great innovator and team builder. The company has so much diversity and strives for customer and personnel satisfaction. McGinnis has been a great place to hang my hat and utilize the culmination of my experiences.

On January 28, 2015, Mr. Bruce McGinnis honored me by renaming the mv. Avon II as the mv. Chuck Piepmeier.

Mr. Terah Huckabee honored my retirement with a beautiful framed picture of the boat named for me. He also facilitated the gift of a huge red granite rock, which is now displayed beside my driveway.

It’s true that time flies when you enjoy what you do and have great people like Doug Hedrick, Ken Doolan and Larry Rusk, whom I worked with daily. I would like to say thank you to all current employees, past employees, our top notch management and our great customers. Special thanks to my wife, Darla, for putting up with all the calls in the middle of the night and my extreme dedication to the duties of my job. It’s been a great 35-plus years!

Editor’s note: The Waterways Journal invites industry veterans to share their “Career Reflections,” which will be included in the magazine and shared with the maritime community. Send stories to