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Shop View: Kearney Tire & Auto Service

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SHOP STATS: Kearney Tire & Auto Service Location: Kearney, Neb.  Owner: Don and Ronda Jaeschke  Average Monthly Car Count: 400  Staff Size: 11  Number of lifts: 12 Shop Size: ~12,000 square feet   Annual Revenue: $2.2 million

From the Ground Up

At Kearney Tire & Auto Service in Kearney, Neb., a lobby renovation was overdue.

Don and Ronda Jaeschke have made regular updates since buying the shop in 2013, but the building, which was originally built in the 1950s, had operated as a repair shop since 1995 and its age was starting to show—especially the tile floor.

Tiles had begun to come loose. Pieces flaked away and the flooring was so old that the Jaeschkes had trouble finding matching replacements.

“We got to a point where the small fixes weren’t cutting it and we figured if we need to upend the lobby, why stop there?” says Ronda. “Like most renovations it started with one project and grew from there.”

Designed With the Customer In Mind

“When you come to work everyday, you’re not seeing things the way your customers do, so we really thought through the customer experience to prioritize the changes we knew they’d appreciate,” says Ronda.

While installing new slip resistant flooring, the Jaeschkes also removed the shop’s original service counters and replaced them with rolling toolbox-inspired stations, updated the restrooms, and converted one of the shop’s two seating areas into a designated family-friendly waiting area.

A wall was also closed off behind the service stations to eliminate any distracting noise coming from the shop’s workfloor, while partial walls were built to section off the remaining customer seating and prevent drafts from the shop’s front door traffic.

A Retro Fit

Originally built as a distinct, curved brick Dodge dealership alongside the historic Lincoln Highway, the Jaeschkes wove nostalgic nods to the shop’s legacy through the lobby’s new look.

“The business has had such a strong image and presence in the Kearney community for decades so we wanted to keep that legacy intact and honor that in at least some small way,” says Don.

A vintage gas pump from the original Mobile gas station that once stood next door adds a retro feel, while custom and vintage neon signs and photos of the building’s evolution and past lives as a dealership, bus station and diner are proudly displayed throughout.

Literal and repair-inspired accents were also added in the redesign. A toolbox was cleverly repurposed to serve as a customer coffee station on its surface and storage within its drawers, and corrugated steel was used to create a toolbox-inspired look for the service advisor’s rolling stations (a design feature that is also much easier to keep clean, Ronda notes).

Furry Friends Welcome

The Jaeschkes have made the shop a decidedly pet-friendly space.

The team makes a point to give back to the Kearney community, including an annual fundraiser for a local organization that helps those battling cancer, but Ronda is also an avid volunteer at the community’s local animal shelter and recently adopted the shop’s newest employee: Otis the official shop cat.

Customers are also welcome to bring their pets for a visit. “A lot of times we’ll have customers break down with their dog in the car and they’ll worry they can’t bring them in while we work on the repairs,” says Ronda. “We think of them as family too, so as long as they’re leashed and friendly all are welcome, which is something customers constantly tell us they enjoy and appreciate.”

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