Emmetsburg Collision, Emmetsburg

Emmetsburg Collision, Emmetsburg

At their core, entrepreneurs are problem solvers. They identify problems potential customers face, and they build a business that provides a solution to those problems. In his 30-year career as an auto body technician, Justin Lode has seen firsthand the problems vehicle owners encounter on the road. At some point, most drivers experience some sort of body damage to their vehicle: hail dents, wildlife damage, and collisions large and small. This was the problem Justin set out to solve when he purchased Emmetsburg Collision in March of 2020.

Like most new entrepreneurs, Justin had a lot to consider before becoming a business owner. He knew without a doubt that he had the expertise necessary to provide high-quality auto body repair. He had the skills and experience, but he wasn’t quite sure of the best path forward. Should he start a new business completely from scratch? Should he purchase an existing business, and if so, which one? What steps would be required? Justin had multiple options to consider, and for help with this, he turned to the Northwest Iowa Small Business Development Center (SBDC) at Iowa Lakes Community College. 

With the help of his SBDC business coach Michael Wampler, Justin was able to compare all of his options and figure out his best opportunity. Justin and Michael worked together on financial projections for a few different ideas, and ultimately they settled on the Emmetsburg Collision purchase as being the best fit. Justin’s lender, Jen Irvine at Farmers Trust & Savings Bank of Spencer, says she refers clients to the SBDC for exactly this sort of guidance. “When entrepreneurs work with the SBDC, they get a deeper understanding of what it takes to start and grow a business, particularly on the financial aspect. SBDC clients have a coach looking out for them and helping them weigh out their options.”

Gretchen Reichter, Marketing & Retail Coordinator for the City of Emmetsburg, echoed those comments, as she had also encouraged Justin to contact the SBDC. “We want to retain our existing businesses in the community, and the SBDC can assist buyers and sellers with this process. Having the SBDC involved helps business transitions go more smoothly.” 

Justin took over the ownership at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, which came with challenges. Drivers were spending less time on the road, decreasing their risks of a collision. Personal protective equipment (PPE) used in the autobody industry was suddenly in short supply due to the pandemic. In spite of these issues, Justin’s business had a strong first year, and he looks forward to serving customers in the area for many years to come.

For Justin, working with the SBDC was a positive experience. “Working with Michael was helpful because I could confidentially discuss questions and concerns with him. It was clear he wanted me to be successful.” 

You can learn more about Emmetsburg Collision at www.facebook.com/EmmetsburgCollision or contact the shop by calling 712-852-4043. 

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