“It’s going to be different,” says Herman Miller, owner of Herman’s Standard Station in Fountain, Minn., about his upcoming retirement and closure of the business on Friday, July 27, 2018, after 47 years in business.
Herman and his wife Linda, who own and operate the business together, will both be retiring after decades of serving the residents of Fillmore County.
“In this business you’re never really done,” he explains, between vehicles needing service and a 24/7 tow truck service. So it will be nice “to be done with work for once,” Herman notes.
In 1964, Duaine Bacon had a gas station on the west side of Fountain which is now a private residence. “That’s where I started pumping gas when I was in high school,” states Herman.
In 1966, Bacon moved from that location to the Skelly Station on the east side of Fountain where K & R Equipment is now located. “I went with him down there,” says Herman, working for Bacon for several more years.
In 1971, they started on their own, says Herman, as Linda explains, “We bought the business, not the building, from Duaine and Bernie (Bernita) Bacon,” which was the start of Herman’s Standard Service.
January 1978 brought about a big change as Herman and Linda moved their business to the current location at 131 Hwy 52 in Fountain. With a larger parking lot area and more service bays, the business was able to handle a larger volume of vehicles for service work.
When asked why they wanted to own their own business, Herman replied, “An opportunity arose and we took it,” and the Miller’s worked hard to make that business a success.
Herman’s Standard has employed countless high school kids, giving many of them their first real job, and enjoyed each and every one of those kids.
“We had a lot of them,” states Linda, saying it would be difficult for them to come up with an exact number as there were so many. “They were good helpers,” Linda says.
As Herman and Linda began naming off some of the high school kids that have worked for them over the years their smiles got bigger and their eyes started twinkling, reminiscing and remembering more names as they thought back.
“We’ve had a lot of good high school kids,” Herman noted, adding, “we never had a bit of trouble with any of them — they were all good kids,” and they have enjoyed watching as those kids became adults and have gotten married and began their careers — some even becoming business owners themselves.
Their son Brent has worked at Herman’s since he was in high school as well, although he likes to say he has worked there since kindergarten as he was in one of the last classes to attend school in what is now the historical center in Fountain, which is located right next to Herman’s, so he would walk over to the station after school. Brent is undecided about his future plans at this time.
The Millers very much appreciate their long-time employees who have given years of dedicated service. Paul Gade has worked at Herman’s Standard for over 40 years and has been an asset to the business with his knowledge and dependability. Gade had previously planned on retiring in 2018 anyway, so when Herman’s closes its doors Gade will lay down his wrench.
Caleb Comstock has also been a very loyal employee, having worked at Herman’s Standard for over 20 years. Another trusted employee is Kaleb Himli who has been working at Herman’s Standard for four years.
“The work is pretty grinding and they work a lot of hours and it’s hard work,” states Herman.
There have been many changes over the years aside from changing locations. In May 1998 Herman’s stopped providing gasoline and removed the gas pumps. “That was a change,” explains Herman, but it also gave them more time to focus on service work.
“Vehicles have changed a lot,” comments Herman, adding, “and there is a lot of change coming” as well. Vehicles have changed a lot, tires have changed a lot, and so have other aspects of the business, according to Herman.
“Everybody owns many more vehicles now than they used to. It used to be one car to a family, now they have a few cars to a family and they all have to be running because they have places to go,” he states.
As far as office work and recordkeeping, “that’s completely different,” notes Herman. “After we took it over you could do the bookwork in an hour, now it’s hours every day — you’re never done with it,” he explains.
Although they will close the doors of Herman’s Standard on July 27, they will probably have more to do after that, says Herman. “Not working on customers cars, but getting everything cleaned up,” states Linda.
The building has been sold to Jason and Mary Schwarz of Fountain and is going to house a Pioneer Seed business.
Herman and Linda would like to express a sincere thank you to all their long time customers. It has been a pleasure for them getting to know so many wonderful people.
When asked their plans after closing Herman’s Standard, the Miller’s did not have any quick answers other than obviously spending more time with their family which includes son Craig, his wife Kaari, and their two sons and their son Brent, his wife Suzy, and their two sons.
Herman’s plans are to “sit down and rest a minute” once his work at Herman’s Standard is officially done.
Thank you to Herman and Linda Miller for 47 years of dedicated service to the residents of Fillmore County. Enjoy retirement!