Starting Over

An Omaha company is back in business after being shut down by war. All the employees had been called up to serve.

Jim Longwell and Chuck Ebel are now rebuilding Longwell Flooring and Sanding.

Jim says, "It concerned me, an 83-year-old business closed down for a year-and-a-half."

It was the first shutdown since Longwell's grandfather started the company in 1922 but there was no option.

In December of 2003, Longwell, Ebel and a third member of the flooring company, Dennis Baxter, were all called to duty. The three Army Reserve members were sent to Iraq with the 172nd transportation company.

Longwell says, "It's kind of tough just closing the business down. There's nobody else to run it so you've just got to grin and bear it."

The typical stress of wartime for their families came equipped with a financial burden and an uncertain future. By putting the business on hold there was no guarantee that customers would stay with them.

After a much appreciated welcome home in late March, it was time to get back to work.

Longwell says, "We're all back now, hacking away and seeing if we can get going again."

Ebel's second son was born while he was away and was eight months old when Check got home.

"It was tough," he says. "A lot of e-mails, photos coming through the mail, watching the young guy grow up."

Despite the downside, they have no regrets after seeing the result of their efforts in Iraq.

Ebel tell us, "You've got children who get to go to school for the first time in generations and you see the looks on these people's face and you know that's the majority of people over there."

"I wouldn't trade it for anything," Longwell said. "It was worth going."