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Auto shop is owner's dream come true

While Kwik Trip was busy trying to work out a plan that would be agreeable to the city, county and neighbors around the intersection of Vermillion Street and County Road 46/47, Patrick Murphy was waiting to find out if his dream of owning his own auto repair shop would become a reality.

Murphy, originally from Cottage Grove, had noticed the building's former tenant, Wayne's Auto Body, moving out. He had contacted the building's owner to see if the space was going to be available. He learned that a sale to Kwik Trip was pending. But instead of searching out other locations, he waited, and when the sale was cancelled, he was told he had the first shot at renting the space.

"This has been a dream come true," Murphy said.

Murphy's Auto Repair, LLC, is Murphy's first business, but he has years of experience in the industry.

He served in the Army for 19 years, entering as a mechanic and retiring as a maintenance supervisor. He's also worked at other repair shops. And while he's had much professional experience, he attributes his affinity for mechanical repairs to his father.

"All my abilities come from my father," he said.

Murphy enjoys working on cars, but the thing that inspired him to open a business was his desire to help. Throughout his career working at other establishments, he's seen customers in need faced with businesses unwilling to go out of their way to help. Murphy recalled one incident, in which a car broke down about 10 miles away from the shop. The owner of the vehicle called the shop and asked them to stay until the tow truck brought her vehicle there, even though it was near closing time. The manager agreed to wait until the car arrived, but when closing time came and the car wasn't there, the manager closed the doors. Even as the tow truck pulled in, he refused to let the family in even though it was so hot out that the kids had taken their shirts off to try to stay cool. Murphy called the shop's owner the next day, related what he had seen, and quit the job. He didn't want to work at a place that would treat its customers that way, he explained.

Now, with a shop of his own, he's putting his customers first. His goal, he said, is to make sure the people who come to him for repairs can safely get to their jobs and support themselves.

"Fix the cars, get these people back on the street so they can get to work," he said.

That means taking the time to listen to them and make proper recommendations. It also means helping them understand their vehicles.

"The number one thing I hear - most people don't understand what's going on with their car," he said.

When it comes to prices, he keeps them low enough to make repairs manageable.

"People work hard for what they have," he said.

His goal isn't to make a fortune, he said. It's just a good feeling to be able to get someone back on the road, he explained.

He's taken another cue from his customers when it came to deciding the hours his shop should keep. The doors will be open from 7:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday, Murphy said, because his customers had commented that a good number of other repair shops in the area close at 5 p.m. - the same time many people are just getting out of work.

Murphy is planning a grand opening for Saturday, July 16. There will be an island theme with Norwegian elements as well. The phone number is 651-346-1062.