By Starrla Cray
DASSEL After almost 46 years in the automotive repair industry including 35 years in Dassel Steve Brecht is planning to retire and close his business the end of July.
Brecht opened Dassel Auto Body July 5, 1983.
“It’s been great,” he said. “People are so loyal and faithful that they keep coming back time after time.”
Brecht’s first experience with mechanic work was while growing up on a farm near Biscay (between Glencoe and Hutchinson).
“We fixed everything on the farm,” Brecht said. “My brothers and I always enjoyed monkeying with cars.”
Brecht graduated from Glencoe High School in 1969, and was drafted into the military in 1970. By the time he got back from Vietnam 13.5 months later, he had decided to pursue a career in the automotive field.
He went to vocational school in St. Cloud for two years to increase his skills in the trade, simultaneously working for an auto repair shop in St. Joseph. After graduation, he stayed working in St. Joseph for a short time before accepting a job at a shop in Hutchinson.
When he had about 10 years of experience, Brecht was ready to start his own business. He began looking at different locations to open a shop, and settled on the west side of Dassel along Highway 12.
“I thought that Dassel was a nice community,” he said.
After opening the business, he commuted from Stewart for three years before he and his family moved to their current home six miles south of Dassel.
Brecht’s customers come from various communities surrounding Dassel, and all the way from the Twin Cities. Many customers followed him from Hutchinson, and have stayed for more than 35 years. Some of their children have become his customers, too.
Brecht’s services included auto repair, painting, and glass installation. As a “hands-on person,” Brecht said he always enjoyed the rewarding feeling of accomplishing a job, and making a vehicle look and operate better than it did before.
“Every job is a little different,” he said.
Although Brecht has enjoyed his work and will miss his loyal customers, he is looking forward to retirement. He plans to spend more time outside, doing things like fishing, gardening, and taking care of his yard. He and his wife, Ruth, also hope to do some traveling.