By Starrla Cray
DELANO, MN After 40 years of making mangled cars like new again, Jim and Carl Janzen are ready to let someone new take the driver’s seat.
The brothers sold their shop, Janzen’s Auto Body at 508 Babcock Blvd. in Delano, to Greg Harwood of Winsted at the end of November.
“Greg’s a super nice guy, and he has the same morals and work ethic as Jim and I have,” Carl said. “I sure want to see him do well.”
Harwood has been in the auto body industry about 22 years, and is also the owner of Harwood’s Winsted Body Shop, located at 151 Second St. S. in Winsted.
Both shops are typically open Monday through Friday, from about 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
Harwood’s 18-year-old son, Austin, works alongside his father at both locations, through a work-release program at Howard Lake-Waverly-Winsted High School. After he graduates this spring, Austin plans to pursue a degree in the automotive industry.
A familiar face
Another employee at the Delano shop (now called Harwood Auto Body) is Carl Janzen.
“I’m going to work for as long as he’ll let me as long as I can be of help to him,” Carl said.
Carl added that being an employee (instead of an employer) is a nice change, giving him more time to spend with family including his wife, Shari, their four children, and “nine-and-a-half” grandchildren.
“In March, I’ll have my 10th,” he said.
Jim, who is five years older than Carl, no longer works at the shop, but said he still “sneaks over there now and then.”
“It was just a fun thing to be involved in,” Jim said.
The Janzens have enjoyed being involved in the Delano community through the years, as well, participating in the Delano Chamber of Commerce, the 4th of July celebration, the Delano Athletic Club, and more.
Learning all the time
Jim and Carl got their first job experience growing up on a farm in southern Minnesota.
“Back then, you fixed whatever you could,” Carl recalled.
In 1963, a year out of high school, Jim began working for a body shop in Hopkins.
“I learned right on the job,” said Jim, who later worked for a shop in Excelsior.
In the early 1970s, Jim joined the auto body shop of Dick Rudd in Delano. He and Carl bought the business in 1974, and incorporated it in 1975.
For Jim, one exciting part of his job was seeing vehicles become like new again after a crash.
“The cars we fix today, it’s awful hard to tell they’ve ever been smashed up,” he said.
Carl also has fond memories of being a business owner, and said the best part was “knowing that I was supplying a service to the community that hopefully they could benefit from.”
Carl and Jim both expressed gratitude to their families and customers for contributing to their success through the years.
“People in the community have been most kind,” Carl said. “I appreciate all their loyalty.”
The Janzen brothers said they hope their customers will continue to patronize the business now that it’s under Harwood’s ownership.
Harwood grew up in Watertown, and first learned about the automotive industry at home, working with his father. Harwood then received formal training at Hennepin Technical College in Eden Prairie.
“The work he’s been doing looks very good,” Jim said.
“He’s got a lot of good ideas,” Carl added.
To learn more about Harwood Auto Body (formerly Janzen’s Auto Body), call (763) 972-2705.