Valley City Times-Record
A Body of Work
Blair’s Auto Body Shop has long legacy of service
Blair’s Auto Body Shop in Valley City has been a part of the community for decades now, its history carried through the years by local owners who have continued its tradition of quality auto body service.
“This shop has been a part of Valley City just about forever,” Kelly Lang, who owned the shop longer than anyone, said. “Now there’s only two body shops yet, there used to be five.”
Kelly and his wife Sandy bought the shop in 1978, just four years after its founding, and continued operating it until 2006, when they sold it to Blair Bakke, who has since become its namesake.
“I think he always wanted to have a shop and when he had an opportunity he bought it from the Langs,” Tim Compson, the current owner, told the Times-Record. “The thing with Blair, he has a son Blair Jr. that actually I grew up with him and went to school with him … we were friends since kindergarten, he helped his dad buy the business and he had some money invested in it. He was a career Marine … and he ended up getting the shop and didn’t know what to do with it.”
The death of Blair Sr. left the fate of the shop up in the air, until Compson got involved.
“After his dad died he reached out to me about buying the shop and one thing led to another, he made it pretty easy, we did a contract … no money down,” Compson said. “He just wanted to keep the shop going. He was so helpful and I couldn’t think of another name for the shop so I (thought) I’d just keep it the same and he thought it was pretty cool that his dad’s name was still on the shop.”
Compson always been in auto body work in some form, sometimes sellings supplies and equipment more, though he prefers to be in the shop when he can…which isn’t as often as he’d like,
as the demands of minding the finances, the front office and helping customers often keeps him out of the shop proper. He’s assisted by two other men who work in the shop proper and keep cars and customers taken care of.
“When I first opened it it was just myself,” Compson said. “The thing of it is, the more people you have, the more cars you need to get in and out. The more hassle you have … you got to keep it smaller so it’s easier to manage.”
He said he’s heard the regrets of other shop owners who grew too quickly and found expansion more hassle then help. That said, he does have a desire to keep growing the business…but with a shortage of good help already plaguing the city, he’s also content to stay within his limits for now.
Blair’s Auto Body Shop specializes in auto body repair, with a focus on the exterior of a car over the more technical inner workings.
“We specialize in the autobody stuff, which is mostly anything that’d happen in a collision,” Compson said. “Mostly the appearance of your car we specialize it, the glass replacement and repair. We don’t do much mechanical … if it’s too technical … we’ll sometimes sublet that stuff out to people who are more specialized in their fields.”
Blair’s Auto Body Shop is located at 240 3rd Ave NE in Valley City. It’s open weekdays from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.