By Gabe Licht
DELANO, MN For 40 years, brothers Jim and Carl Janzen worked side-by-side restoring wrecked cars.
Jim retired from Janzen’s Auto Body in 2013, but still sneaks over to the shop now Harwood Auto Body to offer input from time to time.
Carl will be joining Jim in retirement following an open house from 4 to 7 p.m. Friday to recognize the brothers.
Growing up on a farm in southern Minnesota, the brothers learned how to fix things firsthand.
Jim got his first body shop experience in Hopkins in 1963, a year out of high school. He went on to work for a shop in Excelsior, before joining Dick Rudd’s body shop in Delano.
Carl went to vocational school in Jackson and joined his brother to purchase the body shop in 1974 and incorporate it in 1975.
The auto body industry has changed drastically during the brothers’ time in the business.
“We’ve gone from cars to electronic machines,” Carl said.
“If I was opening up a shop now, I’d have at least one mechanic on call,” Jim added.
Both the paint and how it is applied has changed.
“The downdraft paintbrush was a big thing,” Jim said. “We were the first shop in the area to have one.”
He added that the paint itself is far superior.
“The paint we used to put on fenders would fade out after a couple years,” Jim said. “Now it doesn’t, if you do it right. It also costs a lot of money.”
Neither brother can identify their favorite car they’ve ever fixed, but they definitely have a least favorite.
“After working on other people’s cars, I don’t want to work on my own,” Carl said. “I just want to go home and mow my yard.”
Now, he’ll have more time for yard mowing, along with golfing, camping, spending time with grandkids, and serving on the American Legion Color Guard.
He said he’d like to join Jim and his sister-in-law Peggy in Arizona during the winter, but that his wife, Shari, wants to make sure they are not too far from the grandkids for too long.
Over the years, the brothers have also been active in the Delano Chamber of Commerce, the 4th of July celebration, the Delano Athletic Club, and more.
For seven years, Jim coached baseball. On the nights he coached, he would often return to the shop to finish work, sometimes until 10 or 11 p.m.
The brothers appreciate the support of their spouses.
“I have a wonderful sister-in-law and wife that helped us out a lot,” Carl said.
They are also appreciative of the community.
“The people of Delano have been good to us,” Jim said. “We saw a lot of repeat customers.”
“That’s the part I enjoyed the most: All the people I dealt with, from parts guys, to customers, to insurance companies, sometimes,” Carl added.
Jim said he already has missed working with people and Carl indicated he will be looking to volunteer more in his down time, while he will also appreciate not being tied down to anything.
They both expressed appreciation for Greg and Michele Harwood, who purchased the shop from them in late 2013.
“We feel so fortunate we found a good group of people to take over this business,” Jim said. “We very much appreciate that. You work your whole life building something and you don’t want to sell it to just anyone.”
“We’re really happy the people who took it over are very meticulous and nice people,” Carl added. “We know they do a nice job. It’s been fun working for Harwoods.”