Elected: April 13, 2002
Inducted: September 27, 2002
Born January 23, 1935, Duane literally grew up in the towing and recovery business. His father and mother, the late Virgil and Lillian Coonrod, started a repair shop and a towing and recovery business in Covington, Iowa when Virgil purchased a 1928 Chevy truck. The truck was converted from a bed to a boom truck as jobs required. His recovery winch was powered by a hand crank. By the early 1950’s, the family had expanded their operation to much heavier work, including larger recovery work and house moving. It was not unusual in the early years for Virgil to come to school and get Duane to help him move a house or go on a recovery job. Duane had to set on a pop case to drive the truck.
Coonrod Wrecker and Crane Service has dominated the wrecker and crane business in east-central Iowa for 6 decades. For many in their service area, Coonrod is a household name associated with truck wrecker, train derailments, natural disasters, power outages, most any type of emergency and heavy construction. Over the years, Duane has been involved in many life-saving rescues.
In 1957, the Coonrod’s purchased their first truck-mounted hydraulic crane. This purchased launched the family into an entirely new market. In addition to custom crane work in construction, they utilized the crane in truck-wrecker recovery work. This was the beginning of a new era for Coonrod Wrecker and Crane Service. They developed a very effective and efficient method for righting up loaded semis with the use of cranes. While the recovery industry was unloading rigs prior to up-righting them with wreckers, Duane took the leadership in utilizing mobile hydraulic truck cranes in handling loaded rollovers.
Coonrod’s reputation spread quickly and recovery work sent them hundreds of mile to turn up loaded semis. Competition throughout the Midwest has copied technology developed by Duane in using cranes in recovery work. As trucks grew longer and heavier ofver the past 2 decades, Duane was in the forefront designing and building a more reliable lift system for up-righting loaded semis. He has always been the brainchild behind most of the inventions and innovations in the business.
Coonrod’s family operation now consists of Duane, his brother Donald, and his sisters Diane and Dorene. Each is active in the day to day operations of the business. Duane and his wife Frieda have three daughters, Kim (deceased), Dana and Kelly and a step-son Bobby. Duane has always been a very dedicated individual and has a very open and friendly personality that makes him friends wherever he goes.
The Coonrod family has always been very community minded offering their equipment and labors freely for activities that enhance the community spirit and development. They have always been involved in setting the Christmas tree for the city, donating cranes and labor for the fourth of July celebrations, setting walking bridges and pavilion roofs in the parks and many other community projects.
Duane is a member of the Towing and Recovery Professionals of Iowa, a lifetime member of Friends of Towing and a member of the Operating Engineers.