Honoring a Legend
July 05, 2022
The National Demolition Association lost a truly popular, extremely committed, well-respected member with the passing of Curt Frahm at his home in Naples, Florida, on Feb. 28, 2022. Frahm, a founding partner of Genesis Attachments, longtime active member of the organization and NDA Hall of Fame inductee, passed after a two-year battle with pancreatic cancer.
Curt’s love for the demolition industry was well known from his work within NDA. When asked what drove such a passion for demolition, however, his response was simple: “It’s the people.” In an interview conducted just weeks before his passing, Frahm offered some insight into his devotion to the demolition industry.
“I always loved my demo customers because they are generally family-held businesses, encompassing generations,” he said. “Right now, Scott Homrich is NDA’s president. In my early days at LaBounty, his dad Roger was the president. I think it’s great to see families like theirs carry on those commitments to something they love while, at the same time, growing their businesses. Through both my work with Genesis and with NDA, I’ve met people that I now consider lifelong friends, and that’s invaluable.”
Sharing the Wealth
Frahm’s enthusiasm and positivity was infectious, and he was instrumental in making many colleagues, who might have otherwise stayed on the sidelines, active NDA members. One of those, Scott Knightly, president and owner of New Hampshire-based demolition/remediation firm EnviroVantage, said he was fortunate enough to have had Frahm as his point of contact at his first NDA function.
“Since he’d been involved in NDA for a while already, and I was just trying to figure out what was going on, Curt sort of took me under his wing,” he says. “He introduced me to the right people, which obviously proved helpful. He was very low key in everything he did, from organization business to selling shears. The few times he did talk shop, I told him I didn’t know why he was telling me about his products — thinking I was probably never going to buy anything from him. Ten years later, we were buying all kinds of equipment from him. He never took a high-pressure approach, preferring instead an educational one: this is what you’re looking for in a tool, these are the high points of that tool, and so on. Then, when we were ready to buy, we naturally went back to the guy that helped us out.”
Making Things Easy
While Curt was known for his industry insight, it was his quirky nature that immediately struck a chord with Peter Bigwood, general manager of Macalac. Like Knightly, Bigwood has Frahm to thank for helping him navigate the waters at NDA.
“I immediately liked Curt’s sense of humor; we really hit it off in that regard,” Bigwood says. “But Curt was very respectful of NDA and became part of its very fabric. Because of how well-respected he was, he really helped me get my footing within the organization. Truth be told, when it came to what I could bring to the table, he believed in me probably even more than I believed in myself. Yet here I am, wrapping up my second three-year term on the board. And it extended well beyond organizational help. If there was, say, a potential dealer he felt was a great fit for someone’s business, he was quick to recommend them. He really wanted others in the industry to do well.”
Bigwood said that he Facetimed with Frahm about a month before his passing and, while it could have been a difficult call under the circumstances, Frahm made it so easy. “That was quintessential Curt,” he says.
The Right Sale
For Walt Reeves, it was Frahm’s truthfulness and laid-back nature that stood out more than anything. The senior vice president for Steelwrist and longtime Volvo sales executive said he and Frahm go back nearly 40 years from the complementary paths their careers took.
“In those early days, we didn’t do a lot of business together, but we knew each other,” he says. “Then when we both started getting more and more into demolition, we had a lot of common dealers, we would go to training sessions together, and so on. I found Curt to be a super individual, a guy that you wanted to do business with. He was anything but a high-pressure salesman and, because of that, his approach would generally lead to not just a sale, but the right sale. And anyone in the biz today knows there’s a big difference between the two.”
He said that he and Frahm were on a number of NDA committees together and attended many board meetings in some very nice places. “You make lifetime friends here, and I truly considered him one,” he says. “He is so fondly remembered by those who were fortunate enough to have known him, and it’s great to see the way the team from Genesis is honoring him here this week.”
For those who were not able to attend NDA’s 2022 convention in San Diego, the honor to which Reeves refers was the badging of each Genesis attachment — both at the exhibit hall and the demo site — with a purple ribbon (the color indicating pancreatic cancer) bearing Curt’s name. According to Justin Palvere, Genesis’s director of North American sales, the decision to honor him in that way, while poignant, only scratches the surface of the genuine appreciation they have for one of their co-founders.
“More than perhaps anyone, Curt was the embodiment of Genesis the company,” he says. “His respect for the customer, the way he interacted with them — as well as vendors and OEMs — at trade shows was truly something to see. I noticed that immediately when I started with the company about 15 years ago, prompting me to think: ‘That’s the guy I want to be.’ Just watching how he talked to people and handled any situation he faced was a master class in itself.”
Palvere says they’d planned on bringing Frahm partially out of retirement, simply because he was so well-liked and well-respected. Fate, however, had other plans, first with COVID-19, then with Curt’s diagnosis.
“We did bring him back for NDA in Austin before all that happened, and it was amazing to see people’s reactions to his return,” he says. “It was like he never left; he asked a couple questions about some new tool we had at the time and hit the ground running. It was just Curt being Curt — he was in the moment and did not disappoint.
“Curt’s passing was tragic on so many levels: NDA lost a Hall of Famer, we lost a huge part of our company and, most importantly, the world lost a great human being. He will be sorely missed but will remain in our hearts forever.”