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Change, Change, Change

Written by Randy Gerdin on August 1, 2017

I have been in the Car Fixin Biz for almost 40 years. It is hard to believe. I remember the time, working with my dad, and all he would let me do is hold the trouble light for him so he could get a better view of what he was doing. I went into the army almost right after I graduated from good old St. Francis High School, class of 1974. 1 went into the service and thought I wanted to go into the medical field, so I became a medical lab technician. The best thing I learned from that experience is I don’t want to do that for a living! My dad called me about 6 months before I was discharge from the army. He wanted to know if I wanted to go into the auto repair business with him. He was going to build a brand new shop with gas pumps and all. After a few days, I called him back and told him I would. So in October 1977, we opened Gerdin Auto Service Inc. in the small town of Bethel, MN. Fast forward and there was school, marriage, kids, and then my dad got cancer and passed away in 1988. Change was going on all the time.

That is the era when we went from points and carburetors to electronic ignition and fuel injection. When we bought an old used tow truck, the police approached us to get into the 24-hour towing business and we started towing for the city and the county. It was also the beginning of the franchise tire and auto repair chains making their way into the market. We had to learn to adapt. Change along the way, challenge along the way.

We open a second store in St. Francis in 1998, and along with the support of the community, we ran two stores until 2007 when the financial downturn hit. It was a tough decision to close our Bethel store. That is where I grew up and really learned the trade and where my Dad and I worked together, we had some great times and some rough times. But the change needed to happen. We consolidated the two stores into St. Francis and it was a great move for us. We grew and became more comfortable in our St. Francis location. We have carried with us many of the same staff. Allan has worked for us for over 34 years. I have made so many great friends over the years. We have also lost many friends; 40 years of life can take its natural toll. And now another change.

Last September I started talking with a long time friend of mine who also was in the tire and auto biz. I remember the first time I met with him in person on a cold Saturday in October at the shop. It seemed somewhat odd, but yet familiar as he, his wife, and I walked around the shop, showing and telling. It seemed like it took forever for all the paperwork, negotiating, and really truly considering the sale of my business. After all the meetings with bankers, attorneys, and lots of prayer, we finally closed the on sale of the business on July 27th, 2017.

I am so very pleased and proud to announce that Bill and Jodie Norling of PTL Tire and Auto in Ham Lake are the new owners of Gerdin Auto & Tire. Bill and Jodie, along with three of their grown children, have now taken over ownership of our shop and the towing operations. Over the months, I have come to know their family and I could not in my wildest dreams have picked out better people to hand over the shop too. They have kept all our staff, and I know they will treat everyone fairly and honestly. They already have a great business in Ham Lake and I know they will do a great job of taking care of our staff and our customers. Please stop in and meet them, they are anxious to meet you and get to know the community.

I would also like to say a big Thank You to all the customers, vendors, and of course the greatest staff a person could work with. Many folks have been surprised when I have told them of the sale. My reply has been, I think 40 years is long enough. Time to hand it over to the next generation. Thank you also to the Courier for allowing me to share my thoughts and experiences in the paper over the last almost 20 years. And of course thanks to the many readers of my column. It has been really, really fun, and I hope to see you around as we are out and about. I Love When That Happens!

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