Wednesday, May 07, 2008

25 years ago today

My father opened Willie's Repair Service. May 7th 1983. And
then he promptly took the day off and went Trout Fishing.
Today, 25 years later, he went Trout Fishing.

I can kind of remember the details pretty well. At 9 years
old it was a really cool time for me. Dad rented a small
wooden garage that was at the time 40 some years old I'd
guess. It had a wood stove, one in ground hoist that leaked
terrible and lighting that would make a bat think it was
night time. A few of the prominent business men in our
community where the nudge to Dad to open up for himself. The
President of the Bank made sure to show him the way and gave
him one big piece of advice that he lives by to this day.
Take days off, take vacations and don't let the business run
you, run the business. Dad had been the service manager at a
Cenex station in one town over for years and had a big
following from both Mazomanie and Black Earth. Before that
he worked at the local Mobil. Before that he worked at a
whole bunch of different Farm Implement shops.

When he put in his notice he also took a ad out in the local
paper. "Where's the Mechanic". A spook on the popular
"Where's the Beef" ad that was running at the time.

I can remember cars lined up the street waiting to get in. I
can remember him working from sun up to sun down to get
going. I can remember cutting wood all Saturday with him to
have enough to heat the poorly insulated garage for the next
week. I can remember stacking that wood all Sunday for him.
There where times it was so cold in that shop he would put
his boots in the refrigerator to keep them warm. No bath
room in the building. I can remember a pile of yellow snow
in the back that never stopped growing until spring came
along. Then in summer I can remember coming down on my bike
and watching him sweat through the day. He came from
sturdier stock I am guessing because there is no way I could
have done it.

Five years later he had enough money to start looking for a
location to build the shop he wanted. He tried to purchase a
downtown site where the old grocery store burnt down but the
Village would have no part of a Auto repair shop there. Nor
would the houses nearby. He found a location right next to
the Village office he purchased knowing he wouldn't build
there. He prepared all the paper work and presented it to
the Village. They went ballistic since he had approvals all
done through the state to put his shop right next to them. A
little blackmailing I would say it is caused in sued and the
Village bought the site from him and gave him a lot in the
newly made industrial park. Dad figured it would go that way
and was happy. In 1988 he opened the new shop where we are
today. He built the shop so in case he fell on hard times he
could rent half out but that was never needed. He took on
his first employee in 1991. A smart arsed little punk who
thought he knew it all. I guess I was and still am a little
smart arse :) In 1992 that employee went full time and went
to Auto tech school at Madison Area Technical College
(MATC).

By 1999 the shop had grown to small for the two of us so the
extra 30x45 feet where added to give us more room to work
and play. The new addition also allowed us to clean things
up and start looking better in the eyes of the community.

Now it's 2008 and Dad is semi retired. As he says he only
works half days now, 12 hours which is pretty funny but goes
over well. He still comes in at 6 am and leaves around 6 pm
but it's not all work. He enjoys his time out at the farm
and fishing. The young punk tries to keep up with the work
load and become the owner his Dad is but knows it will never
be. But keep trying is all he can do.

So, 25 years later and I think the old guy did pretty well.
His shop doesn't have a whole lot of debt load. His house is
paid for, his cars are paid for. He enjoys working when he
wants and playing when he wants. His punk kid was able to
get married, have kids, buy a house and too many toys
because of the shop. He also has hopes for a new house on
the farm this next year. All because of Willie' Repair.

His other two sons also moved back home this past year.
Danny out of the USMC is going to tech school to be a Auto
Tech and one day work along side myself. He is also going
back into the Army Reserve for Diesel Mechanics. Troy is
fresh back from Boston with a Masters Degree in Business
Communications and Property Management and brings a whole
new outlook on how it can be or could be done. He will be
looking for a job in Madison and surely helping me in the
future with his knowledge and background. They both have
projects at the shop and spend free time working around us.
All the Ruland boys back together figured out how we can
rule the world. It's a good time right now, that's for sure.


Rock on Dad, your the best.

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