Family's labor of love ravaged by flames - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Family's labor of love ravaged by flames

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A Waverly family's dry cleaning business of more than 30 years is ravaged by an overnight fire. 

Waverly firefighters responded just after 11 p.m. to a fire at Classic Cleaners, after a driver noticed smoke coming from the building. Fire Chief Dennis Happel says he had sixteen firefighters battling the blaze for five hours. 

"When we got here, there was fire inside, but due to the construction of the building-which it had three ceilings in it, we weren't able to get at it very efficiently," said Chief Happel.

Aside from the challenge of finding where the fire was spreading, Chief Happel says they were fighting brutal weather conditions.

"It's not only the water, but the ice you got to deal with and the conditions, it was right at zero or below zero," said Chief Happel. 

Despite their efforts, fire crews couldn't save the Dralle family's labor of love. 

Sherri Dralle says it's a family business, passed down from her father. The business opened in March of 1986.  

"My dad sold dry-cleaning and laundry equipment, so it was his dream to have one of his own," said Dralle.

For Dralle, looking at the business for the first time since the fire was heartbreaking. 

"I just want to go brush the clutter off my presser there and start working," said Dralle. "It's 7:30 every morning..okay 7:35 I'm always late, but I never left on time either."   

Dralle says it was more than just a family business. 

"My husband and I have worked real well together," said Dralle. "He has his other job, his real job, bu then he's my maintenance man. So 4 o'clock, 4:30 whenever he gets here, I give him a list of things to do. The girls, they deliver for me. They've pressed right alongside of me, so it's tough, it is tough."

The loss, is a tough sight for not only Dralle, but for the town of Waverly. Each car that passed by the corner side gem Thursday morning, slowed down to look at the town staple. 

"My father always told me you never made any money 8 to 5," said Dralle. "I don't have any off button some nights."

So what kept customers coming back all these years?

"Well you probably have to ask my customers that, but that's another reason I've been here 32 years," said Dralle. "And if I start just can't beat customers. And I've also been very fortunate to have some of the best employees..that you can possibly have. But when you're having a bad day that customer will bring me cookies the next day, they'll make me smile, vice versa-we give hugs to some of our special customers."

For more than 30 years, the Dralle's have been pressing more than a friendly smile from open to close, and that's the secret the town of Waverly knows best. 

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