Through the roof; Hosch Grain Tec's workload spiked after 2020 derecho

grain bin at Hosch Grain Tec. The company suddenly became very busy back in 2020 when the derecho hit parts of Jones County. (Photo submitted)

Dale Hosch and his company got plenty of business after the derecho hit, but said “I never want to do that again.” (Photo by Pete Temple)
Pete Temple
Express Sports/Ag Editor

   On Aug. 10, 2020, a derecho hit the city of Cedar Rapids and the surrounding area, bringing wind speeds of 140 miles per hour and causing widespread damage.

   It took a while for Dale Hosch, owner of Hosch Grain Tec, to be aware of the storm, and then to learn how deeply it impacted dozens of his customers.

   “We were working here that day, doing crane work on my own system,” Hosch said. “They were predicting that storm. We were working 100 feet in the air. And so I said, ‘We’ll just go until we can’t.’

   “It started getting dark, and we could see the rain was coming, so we took an early lunch. We came back to the shop an hour later, and it was still raining. Finally I told everybody to go home, because it looked like it was going to rain all afternoon.”

   Then, the text messages began to arrive on Hosch’s phone, mostly from customers south of Highway 64.

   “They were saying, ‘Hey, save me some time. We’ve got bin damage,’ ” Hosch recalled. “I still wasn’t aware of what was going on. I got another text message: ‘I need you to come take a look.’ ”

   Soon cellphone service from those areas, primarily from Morley to Olin, went out.

   “About 3 or 3:30, (wife) Sheila and I jumped in the pickup and went down for a drive,” Hosch said. “We just didn’t have a clue how big it was.”

   Soon, they could see it with their own eyes.

   “The derecho was massive,” Hosch said.

   One customer, he said, “has a two-stall garage door that faces the northwest. (The storm) blew the garage door in, blew the walk-in door in, did damage to the kitchen cabinets, and blew out the picture window.”

   Among Hosch Grain Tec customers, he said, more than 50 grain bins were ruined.

   “And that’s just my little piece of the world,” he said. “We’ve done tornado damage, and that’s pretty isolated. This was just awful. Farmers were caught with nothing.”

   There was nothing for Hosch and his crew to at that point except get to work. The first order of business was making sure farmers had a way to move their grain.

   “We went in and cobbled their setups together, so they could get their grain out, because you couldn’t get materials in time to fix it. All the supply factories were overloaded,” Hosch said. “They had to have something.

   “And then the following year we went in and replaced it. That year (2021) we took on, I’d say, at least one-and-a-half times the work we normally take on, and built about three times the number of bins that we normally build.”

   They decided building new was the way to go, Hosch said. The reason?

   “Safety,” he said. “Getting the damaged materials out. There were crews repairing damaged bins, and we decided that we’re not doing that because it’s high-priced, dangerous work. We’re good at building bins and legs.

   “We know what we know how to do, and we didn’t want to take any chances.”

   He and his crew had help. Jerry McElmeel & Son Excavating and Grading tore damaged bins down. Companies from other states also assisted.

   “We had a crew from South Dakota that came in and did some work,” Hosch said. “They were not as busy, so they came here.”

   It took until the summer of 2022 before things were back to normal for Hosch’s customers.

   “We did one derecho job last summer, and it was just because the materials didn’t show up the previous summer,” he said. “It showed up a year ago in December, and we got that installed.”

   The company learned some things through the experience.

   “We found out that the majority of farmers were underinsured,” Hosch said. “We tell farmers, make sure to re-evaluate your insurance. A lot of farmers thought they had replacement insurance, but they didn’t. They had prorated replacement insurance.”

   Hosch Grain Tec has been selling, installing and servicing grain equipment for 27 years. It began with Kenny Hosch and sons Dale and Dave. The two sons ran it for 20 years, and for the last three, it has been Dale and his son Dan. Matt Hein worked for the company for six years.

   “We have two grandkids now, who are 10 months and 11 months old,” Dale Hosch said. “We have to adjust our time so we can spend more time with them, because you can’t go back.”

   Hosch said he hopes he never has to go back to a derecho situation again.

   “I was told, ‘This is so good for you guys,’ ” Hosch said.

   “But I never want to do it again.”



Subscriber Login