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Automotive Guide
Serving the tri-county area of McLeod, Wright, and western Carver

After the Fire

Balow's is rebuilding out of the ashes

By Troy Feltmann
Staff Writer

After a devastating fire in February, Balow's Highway 7 Auto Salvage of Lester Prairie is nearly back to business as usual.

The fire started when a spark from a torch got into the back seat of a mini van. The fire quickly spread, destroying the shop and office.

Jeff and Terri Balow have owned the auto salvage yard since December 1996. The yard has been there since 1973.

How it has been going since the fire?

"Stressful! Yeah! Very stressful! Trying to run a business and putting together a new building has been very stressful for Terri and I. This is something I hope I never have to go through again," Jeff Balow said.

There was never any doubt that the business was going to re-open after the fire.

"After the initial shock, it was pretty amazing how fast we got back up and running," he said. "We got the computers running and the phones switched over into the new location so we could serve our customers again."

"There are a lot of people who rely on us. We never had any thoughts of folding. If it happens again, you might find a race track in this location," Balow joked.

The Balows originally worked for Hollander Yard Management Systems selling and installing inventory control systems to salvage yards.

The Hollander system is the same one used for inventory at Balows.

"When Terri and I started a family, it was time for me to get off the road. We found the business out here in Lester Prairie," Balow said.

"We sell used, rebuilt, new parts. We do some service work, but not a lot. We sell a lot of new and used tires," Balow said.

Balow's recently received its dealer's license for selling used cars.

"We buy repairables. We fix and sell the car or we sell the repairable outright. We also sell used cars," Balow said.

If Balow's doesn't have the part needed, it can locate the part in minutes on its locating service network. Balow's is connected to 3,500 other salvage yards.

"We can find just about anything our customer's need," Balow said

Tires are the biggest seller at Balow's.

"We sell a lot of the maintenance parts ­ starters, alternators, drive axles master cylinders. Those are the most popular parts," Balow said.

Price is the biggest reason for buying used parts.

"You will find that a lot of starters and alternators you buy from us are rebuilt. The part will have a remanufactured sticker on the it. You are getting a remanufactured part for a used price," Balow said.

Balow's offers a 60-day warranty on all the parts it sells.

"You get a warranty when you buy new parts and you get a warranty when you buy used parts at Balow's. If there is a problem with a part and we don't have one, we will locate another one," Balow said.

The Balows are members of the Minnesota Auto Recyclers. They recycle antifreeze, utilize the oil they drain from cars to heat their shop, and are also certified to recycled freon.

Balow's sponsor a half dozen racers at Raceway Park in Shakopee.

"We give them half price on parts and in return they put our name on the car," Balow said.

"I also race my own car at Raceway Park. I run in the Euduro class," Balow said.

If you want to do a inventory search, check out

After a hard and stressful year, the Balows are just about finished with the new building. The building should be ready soon.

Automotive Guide
Published October 2003

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