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Body shop under new, local ownership

June 7, 2012

Paul Heroux, manager of Valley Auto Body, sits at his desk Wednesday afternoon.

Valley Auto Body and Storage, LLC has purchased what used to be Quality Auto Body Shop from former owner Ken Schwanke of Fargo.

The body shop and storage units are now under local ownership. Jerry Bennefeld, Craig Larsen and Dan Taylor, all of Valley City, decided to make the investment.

“We all three have experience with rental property and we were looking to diversify,” Bennefeld said.

Larsen said that he and Bennefeld own rental property together and are always looking to find new opportunities.

“We found this offer to be very intriguing, and we asked our friend Dan, and here we are,” Larsen said.

“We are excited about the new challenge of owning a body shop and storage units.

“We look forward to supporting the community as a locally owned body shop,” Bennefeld said.

Valley Auto Body will continue to be managed by Paul Heroux, who has been manager of the body shop for 30 years, even before Schwanke owned it.

The owner previous to Schwanke was Gale Olstad of Valley City.

In addition to Heroux, the shop will also keep the two full-time bodymen and one painter will continue to work at the shop.

The position of a part-time bookkeeper and a part-time cleaning person has also been added.

“We feel blessed to have such a great group of guys working at our shop. Our bodymen, painter and manager have a lot of years experience and are very good at their jobs,” Bennefeld said.

The shop hopes to add another bodyman soon. “We just need to get a few months under our belt first,” Larsen said.

The new owners are also considering adding sandblasting services “down the road,” Larsen said.

Last fall, one of the buildings was damaged by a semi truck and was left with a large hole on the side of the building.

Bennefeld said they do have plans to repair or tear down the building that was damaged.

“We are gathering estimates from local contractors right now,” he said.

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