By Charlie Warner
Argus News Editor
“The time’s gone so fast. It’s hard to believe that I’ve been working in this building for more than 50 years. I’ve got a lot of great memories,” said Paul Weichert, owner of Weichert Motors of Caledonia.
Paul is one of three Weicherts who have been involved in the large facility located on Pine Street for more than 75 years.
Paul’s father Les began working in the building as a mechanic in the 1930s and purchased the business in 1943. That’s when “Weichert Motors” became a household name in Caledonia…a business that has not only survived, but flourished over the past 68 years.
Paul’s brother Greg began working for his father in the 1950’s and at 12 years young, Paul began washing and polishing cars, sweeping floors and filling the pop machine.
In May of 1966 Les suddenly died of a heart attack. He was just 57 years old. Paul, who was attending college, returned to Caledonia and he and his older brother Greg formed a partnership, which lasted 15 years.
In 1981, Paul bought his brother out and has been the sole proprietor of Weichert Motors ever since.
The 75-plus years of Weichert Motors came to an end this past week, as Paul officially closed the doors.
For Paul and his right-hand-man of 41 years, mechanic Ron Lemke, the fact that Weichert Motors would no longer be in business was just starting to settle in last week, as they visited with this writer.
“Oh, I’ll stay busy doing work on my kids’ homes and their vehicles,” Lemke said with a smile. “I guess when you’re handy, there’s always projects.
“I’ll be spending a lot of time down on the river fishing,” Lemke added. “But not ice fishing. I’m not going to sit out on the ice and get cold.
“I just love being down on the river. If I catch fish, that’s great. If I don’t, I really don’t care. I just love being outdoors when it’s nice out,” Lemke added.
Paul said he’s not going to miss the stress of trying to complete some of the more challenging repair projects when there is a deadline.
“I’m going to continue tinkering with things down here,” Paul said. “I’m not going to put the building up for sale. Now is not a good time to try to sell commercial property.
“I’ll still be around here, so it’s not like I’m not going to continue seeing the friends and customers I’ve established over the years,” Paul continued.
“But I will miss the satisfaction I’ve gotten when we did a job well done, which pleased our customers.
“I’m going to do more golfing,” Paul added with a smile, “and get after that ‘honey do’ list of chores.
“I just can’t believe I’ve been at this for that long,” Paul said, shaking his head. “Caledonia is a great business community. The people of this area really do support their businesses. I’ve had some very good customers. They’ve been great people to work for.
“And you know, I’m still gonna be around here tinkering,” Paul added with a sly grin.
You can contact Charlie Warner at [email protected]