BALATON - A Balaton business has reopened with new owners, and Jon and Rachel Janssen say they are looking forward to serving the area.
The Janssens have bought and reopened Balaton Auto Salvage. The salvage yard and office is located along Lyon County Road 63, just south of Balaton.
Jon Janssen said he hopes the business will help grow the local economy.
"It's good for the community. And I hope to add two or three jobs at the shop," he said.
For now, his wife Rachel helps him run the office and find parts, he said, "And my dad helps out in the shop when he's not farming."
Reopening Balaton Auto Salvage means something of a homecoming for Janssen.
He worked at the salvage yard, for previous owner David Lustfield, from about 1995 to 2001, he said. Even after moving away to South Dakota, he said, "I've always been in the same business."
Janssen said he saw advertisements saying that Balaton Auto Salvage was for sale and decided to buy the business. It's been a long process, however, getting together business loans and working to get permits and other preparations necessary to open the salvage yard.
There were some things that had to be done to the salvage yard and shop itself, like filling in underground tanks, before the business could open, Rachel Janssen added.
"There was a lot of work that went into it," she said.
Now, the couple's work is focused a little more on taking stock of the parts and vehicles available in the salvage yard.
"It's a lot of reorganizing, and getting it the way you want," Jon Janssen said.
Jon Janssen said he plans to use a new computerized system through Hollander Interchange, that will help with serving customers and locating car parts.
"I think I might try to sell some older parts on eBay," he said, but that's an experiment that will likely happen further in the future.
Balaton Auto Salvage offers replacement parts, tires and used vehicles Jon Janssen said. Most of the inventory is based on General Motors, Ford and Chrysler products.
"We've got a lot of repairables and more affordable used cars," he said. "We've got a lot of new tires."
Janssen said he also offers 24-hour towing services.
Of coming back to the Balaton area, Janssen said, "It's different." Some things have changed, but, he said, "I see some familiar faces from high school."
So far, Rachel Janssen said, "We've been kind of getting our feet wet" and learning the ropes of the business.
However, in the short time they've been open, there have already been a variety of customers calling the salvage yard. "You never know what it's gonna be," she said.
The variety of requests is one of the fun things about the job, the Janssens said.
"With unusual parts, I like the challenge of finding it," Rachel Janssen said.
Jon Janssen said some of the more unusual calls they've gotten have asked about parts for a 1938 Model T, and a 1959 Ford pickup. He might not have been able to provide those specific parts, but, "If you don't have it, you can still help the customer," by referring them to another source, he said.
Jon Janssen said he thinks there's still a good market for older vehicles and inexpensive used cars, especially in a rural area, so the auto salvage yard is a needed business in the region.
"I still see a lot of older stuff driving up and down the road. That's going to stay strong," he said.