(Feb. 14) After he’d paid the first month’s rent and put a new ribbon in his Corona typewriter, Allen Lund went to the bank and socked away his last $1,000.

It was 1976, downtown L.A. Lund owned his own business.

And he’d quit a good job to do it. And he had seven mouths to feed — six kids and wife Kathleen.

“Why did she let me do that?” Lund said. “I’m still asking myself that question.”

Thirty years later, the risk Allen and Kathleen Lund took continues to be rewarded. Allen Lund Co. Inc., La Canada, Calif., notched $260 million in sales and moved 125,000 truckload shipments in 2005. That was 25% better than the year before, which was 25% better than the year before, which was …

In all, the truck broker has grown 25% each of the past five years. And Lund doesn’t expect to slow down. He’s looking forward to ending 2006 with $300 million in sales.

And in 30 years, that original $1,000 has never gone south of $0.

“Part of my management philosophy has been to remain debt-free,” Lund said. “We’ve been slow but sure plodders.”

Slow but sure has been just fine with Lund.

“Maybe along the line we could have borrowed money and opened 20 or 30 new offices per year instead of two or three. But if you grow that fast, can you handle things all that well? Probably not.”

Customer service is what separates Lund from other logistics firms, said a longtime client, John Lapide of watermelon shipper Lawrence J. Lapide Inc., Brooklyn, N.Y.

“They’re not like the typical broker that books a truck over the Internet and doesn’t check up on it,” he said. “They always follow up, to find out when it was loaded, whether or not it was going to be late. That’s important to us.”

In the beginning, Lund was a company of one — Allen working the phones solo in that tiny L.A. office. Now Allen Lund Co. is in the suburbs and employs 255 people. Twenty other Lund offices are spread out across the U.S.

Those employees, along with Kathleen and Lund’s faith, are the main reasons for the company’s success, he said.

Lund also counts himself lucky to have chosen agriculture — and fresh produce in particular — as the hook on which to hang his aspirations.

“This is the world’s greatest industry,” he said. “I could probably go out today and buy $5 million worth of produce, no questions asked. Your word still goes a long way.”