NISSWA - Mike Spielman wanted to returned to the lakes area after running heavy equipment out west, including work in a gold mine.
Keith Clarke wanted to turn 38 years of auto repair experience into a family business of his own.
The two cousins found the answer in K&M Repair in Nisswa.
K&M Repair, for Keith and Mike, opened in October on Hazelwood Drive on a site that was home to a dock business. They work on all makes and models.
Clarke has 38 years of experience with a General Motors dealership and is a transmission specialist. Spielman previously owned and operated Spielman Repair Center in Pequot Lakes before selling the business to an employee, Ray Johnson who re-named it Pequot Lakes Auto.
Keith Clarke (left) and Mike Spielman opened K&M Repair on Hazelwood Drive in Nisswa in October. The two come with a family connection and decades of experience in the autor repair industry.
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Spielman said Clarke had the idea about working together and it came at the right time as he wanted to return from working on the road. After selling his business, Spielman worked in Alaska, Colorado, Montana and Wyoming. The work was interesting and included operating heavy equipment in open pit gold and underground platinum mines. But it meant being apart from family here.
"It was a tremendous experience," Spielman said.
In Alaska, he worked in a mountain valley where wildlife could be seen on nearby mountain sides. Radical weather changes were affected by the Bering Sea. The only way in and out was by light aircraft. Spielman said walking to the chow hall meant being prepared to run into a brown bear.
"You found out you weren't on the upper end of the food chain," Spielman said. In Colorado, he worked for a gas company putting in natural gas wells. He found the jobs via the Internet.
"I got to see a lot of things I never experienced before," Spielman said, adding he'll have stories to tell for a long time. "Now I'm back to fixing cars and trucks and whatever else needs to be repaired."
K&M's primary focus is on cars and pickups and medium duty size vehicles such as bulk trucks and vehicles up to a school bus size. They work on trailer brakes and hitches and items with an automotive style engine.
It's been a family effort. Spielman's mom Bernice Spielman helped out with her office expertise. Clarke's son-in-law Kevin Ballinger designed the business logo, which was incorporated into their uniforms.
Clarke said the site they are leasing on Hazelwood Drive gives them high visibility from Highway 371 North. The economy may bring in business as people choose to keep their vehicles running rather than take on a vehicle payment. While there are other repair shops in the area, Clarke said he believes they are complementary to each other. Clarke said they want to be active in the community.
"We thought there was room for us in town," Clarke said.
After 38 years in the business, Clarke said he still liked the idea of being productive, providing a service and doing his part in the community. "I still help people out - that's important."
RENEE RICHARDSON may be reached at email@example.com or 855-5852.
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