Dial back to 1963 through 1993 to the stark enclave of factories, taverns, and warehouses of Southeast Baltimore. The setting is the former Curtis Engine facility located on Holabird Avenue. Sitting on an incline on more than two acres in this gritty slice near Dundalk was the service department building. Down the hill was the main building that housed parts and people.
This is where Curtis Engine built the foundation for its position today, as one of the leaders in power generation. In the early years, Curtis Engine supported Baltimore’s shipyards and steel mills with engine overhauls and had almost 40 product lines of engines, air compressors and power generators.
During its 30-year tenure on Holabird Avenue, the company condensed its service and product line. Curtis Engine became one of the largest distributors of Onan engine generators and segued into the standby engine market, where it had a corner on providing standby units for all of the Baltimore-area Giant and Safeway markets. By the late 80s and early 90s, Curtis Engine also had an on-site power generator rental fleet of more than 100 units, ready to support customers when the need arose.
As Curtis Engine grew through the 90s, its business model evolved from a general industrial equipment supplier to a trusted provider of service and maintenance of generator sets. Says former employee Wayne Brashears, “Our 30 years at the Holabird Avenue location made us who we are today. Our company name became synonymous with trustworthiness and outstanding customer relationships.”
As retired Curtis Engine owner Tom Koch tells it, “This year marks our 75th anniversary. Our company has been in several locations, but our Holabird Avenue chapter was an evolutionary period for us. We have transitioned to the preferred provider of sales and service for MTU Onsite Energy and ASCO Power Technologies. That’s a great foundation for building the next 75 years!”