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Oil Line Automotive expected to open this May

The shape of the new business is highly visible. The front section will be a new waiting room for customers.1 / 2
Peter Hargis, left, and Nate Oehrlein are the owners of a new automotive business being built along Vermillion Street. 2 / 2

For the past several weeks, thousands of people each day have watched as a new construction project takes over an old car wash along Vermillion Street. The project is a new business, Oil Line Automotive, and it’s expected to open this May.

Oil Line Automotive will be a car wash, detail, oil service and light mechanical auto shop. It is owned by Nate Oehrlein and Peter Hargis. Oehrlein is a Hastings native and the owner of Oehrlein construction. He has about 20 years of construction experience, working for his father before taking over the business. He’s been a contractor since 1998. Hargis has worked for Oehrlein for three years and also brings a railroad background to the operation.

The new venture is a combination of both Hargis’ and Oehrlein’s passions, they said. It’s been a bit of a learning experience dealing with commercial construction instead of the residential work they’re more accustomed to, but it’s been fun to start a new project, they said.

They purchased the building in February, after spending two years looking for a site.

“This (site) just came out of nowhere,” Oehrlein said.

It hadn’t even been up for sale, but they found out that the owner might be willing to sell and struck up a conversation.

One of their goals, they said, was to find a place they could fix up instead of tearing down an old building and starting from scratch.

“We don’t like knocking stuff down,” Oehrlein said.

The old car wash was a perfect opportunity to stay in his hometown while improving the look of a highly visible location.

Construction work is extensive. In the front of the building will be a new waiting room for customers. They’ll be able to take vehicles inside for car washes, oil changes, detailing and inspections. They’ll also have two mechanical bays for light mechanical work. On the second floor, they’re building a space for an employee lounge.

The outside of the building will take on a new color scheme, with lots of special detailing. Hargis said they’re also planning to mix historical design elements with modern construction to better match other historic structures in Hastings.

They’re using local contractors as well, keeping as much as their business here as they can.

The Nails business, which occupies the southernmost portion of the building, will remain there. Oehrlein said he’s hoping that the businesses can work in tandem, each bringing customers for the other.

“It’ll all work together,” he said.

For example, he said, a husband could take the car in for a wash and oil change while the wife gets her nails, hair or makeup done.

Oehrlein also sees the business as an opportunity to help fill the gaps when it comes to local needs. When he was younger, he said, he had a go-kart that needed some minor welding work done, but he couldn’t find anyone in town to do it. Those are the sorts of projects he hopes to take on at Oil Line Automotive. He’s even planning a small welding station.

They plan to get the business involved in the community, Hargis said. They’re considering offering various classes.

Oehrlein gave special credit to Hastings’ city officials for the work they’ve done to allow the new construction.

“City officials have been very helpful,” he said.