When father-son duo Terry and Chad Rosendahl first began their repair business, there was no way of knowing if it would thrive in the small town of Houston. Nearly a decade later and the pair are getting ready to celebrate a big milestone and a steadily growing business.
“Business has grown every year,” says a grateful Chad Rosendahl. “2017 was our best year yet. I was thinking eventually the business would plateau, but we beat the year before again.”
Growing up in Hokah, Minn., the younger Rosendahl got his start in mechanics working on farm machinery as a young man. “I got the knack for fixing things,” he laughs. Continuing through high school, he found additional opportunities to learn through work study and experience, as well as industrial education. “I decided it was something I really wanted to pursue,” he adds. Following graduation in 2002, he moved to Mooresville, N. C. to attend college, spending 16 months in an intensive automotive mechanics training program.
Returning to the area, Chad moved to Houston, where he had family, and began work. His ties to the location that would become his business, 810 E. Cedar Street, started with that job, where he worked for John Loken, who previously owned the property. “I’d worked there for a year and a half. He came to me, looking to sell,” recalls Rosendahl. “I had planned on trying it, but the opportunity presented itself.”
Opening up in 2008 with just his father and himself, they focused on standard vehicle maintenance. “Everything went pretty smoothly,” he adds. “It let me get my feet wet before jumping in all the way.” After three years, they began making upgrades to the business, including adding alignment repair.
“We’re really a one-stop shop,” says Rosendahl. “I think we’re set up pretty well, having it all right in-house. We took what was there and built it up steadily. Ninety-nine percent of the stuff brought into the shop we do ourselves. We don’t turn work away,” he adds, laughing. Just taking a business and making it successful has really been the biggest challenge.”
Now, with an added two employees, the three-bay facility does everything from general maintenance, brakes, and air conditioning to alignment, transmissions, and engine repair. “We’re really trying to get through the work in a timely fashion,” he says. “I think that honesty and good work at a reasonable price is the main reason we’ve been successful.”
The company is known in the region, not just the tri-county area, with customers coming from a 45-minute radius or more for that service. “A lot of our customers are elderly and they rely on us to keep their vehicles running. We’ll pick up in different locations, give vehicles personal attention to detail, and bring the vehicles right back,” he says proudly.
Being the head man can be pretty daunting though, as Rosendahl found out. Initially, he spent a lot of free time on the race track, pursing another hobby where he also found success. But, there’s only so much time. “For myself, I’m trying to be the owner, provide service, be an auto technician, answering phones; I’m all over the place sometimes,” he notes. “I began fixing cars because I enjoyed it. It’s kind of hard to be having to do other things.”
Looking into their next 10 years, Rosendahl knows some changes need to happen. “This year, possibly this spring already, we’ll be trying to look to hire someone to help in shop.” The option of having office staff has also been considered, as well as upgrades to the facility. “I’ve been putting money aside that I can invest back into the business. We’ve upgraded equipment and the office area, cleaning things up and making them more efficient. At some point, we might look at expanding, too.”
All that time might not net Rosendahl more time on the track though. “I’ve got other hobbies, now,” he laughs. The best hobby and encouragement has been his young family, including wife, Susan, and children Owen (13), Carter (8), and Claire (2). The family has also added farming back into their lives, returning to where Chad Rosendahl started learning his trade. “I still have the race cars, but farming takes up a lot of the time,” he chuckles.
The company is hoping to put on a 10-year anniversary party for the community and their customers later this summer. At this time, no date has been set.