Les’ Body Shop – 40 years of business
Wed, 01/20/2016 - 8:27am admin
The first full year I did nothing but hand sanding.
As of Jan. 7, 2016, Les’ Body Shop reached its 40th year as a business.
The enterprise actually started in 1950 under the ownership of Les Ankrum, doing business in Highmore. Then Ankrum moved the operation to Philip. It was first located where Barry Knutson’s sign painting shop is now, then Ankrum took over a gas station where the First National Bank stands today.
It was small, only two stalls, and in 1972 it was turned into a body shop. “Out behind was a huge cottonwood tree, and during the summer we did as much work outside under the neighbor’s shade tree as we did inside, because of the lack of room,” recalled Mike Noteboom, the current owner of Les’ Body Shop.
Noteboom said, “When I started for him (Ankrum), there was no such thing as power tools, everything was done by hand. That’s a huge change. The first full year I did nothing but hand sanding. They wouldn’t let me do anything else until I had the feel in my hands to know when a job was right, was perfect.”
The industry used to paint with acrylic laquer, which had to be hand buffed. Then came enamals, which were then replaced by base coat and clear coat. Now Les’ Body Shop uses a spray-on water-based paint that comes under the name of PPG Envirobase. “There’s been some major changes in 40 years,” said Noteboom.
In 1987, Noteboom and his wife, Tina, bought her dad out, due to her father facing health difficulties. “We left the name the same because Les had taught me the trade and I had been with him 11 years already,” said Noteboom.”
The business moved to its current location in 1998. “We needed to enlarge, needed more room,” said Noteboom. “When we moved in here, we also started doing mechanic repair, glass, auto body repair and auto sales.”
“My kids grew up in the business. From the time they were a young enough age, when Dad wanted a tool they would have to pull out the drawers on the tool box and crawl up there to get the tool,” recalled Noteboom. Now the business has its third generation of family members working under its roof.
“The other thing, when you start talking about people, we’ve had a lot of young kids, even today they work alongside everybody else here with the whole crew.”
“There’s been a lot of long hours and late nights down here,” said Noteboom. “But, honestly, that’s what it takes to make a business.
“It’s not employer/employees. It’s family. That’s the way we look at it,” said Noteboom. “Everyone comes in and we visit. Everyone who comes in our door, they aren’t just customers, they’re friends.”