Father, son business team celebrate 91 years beautifying central Illinois

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EAST PEORIA, Ill. — The 91 year-long legacy of the Durdel family is still standing tall in Central Illinois. 

“Everybody knew us as the guys around that cut trees,” said Steve Durdel.

Steve and his father, Fred own the family’s tree service business, Durdel & Sons. For Steve, it was a major part of his nontraditional upbringing.

“I was climbing trees at 14, 15, up in the boom truck. You know 15, 16 years-old taking down trees. I just loved it,” said Steve.

Their legacy of entrepreneurship dates all the way back to 1928 with Steve’s grandfather, Herman Durdel. He was an immigrant landscaper from Germany. But when Herman unexpectedly passed away in 1959, Fred and his brother quickly transformed from teenagers to business owners.

They took the reigns of Durdel & Sons from their father.

“I’ve been doing it now, I guess 60 years now,” said Fred.

Three generations in, the business is still going strong.

“I said [to Steve] don’t do this because of me. Do it because you want to do it,” said Fred.

The Durdels say their biggest focus has been navigating the dangers of the job. From sharp tools, to steep heights, a few employees have gotten hurt over the decades, but they’ve been able to recover.

Fred said, “There’s fulfillment in what you’re doing. You’re accomplishing something.”

Ninety-one years later, Fred and Steve thank the employees and community for keeping them going.

“I’m just really proud of it actually. Very very proud of it,” said Steve.

And unlike the trees they cut, the Durdels hope as they begin to approach 100 years, their legacy continues to stand.

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