By Julie Ann Madden
“My father inspired me,” said Gerald Heeren about his career fixing vehicles.
During high school, he could often be found in the Akron Auto Clinic with his father, Norm, tinkering on vehicles as he learned the auto mechanics trade.
It’s where Gerald learned his father’s business philosophy: “Hard work pays off; honesty pays off. Take time, keep away from mistakes and do it right.”
When Gerald graduated from Akron High School in 1980, he continued his auto mechanics training at Northwest Iowa Technical College in Sheldon and graduated from the two-year diesel mechanics program.
“I was into street rods when I was a youngster,” said Gerald, admitting he still likes street rods and motorcycles. “I’d bring my tools home during college breaks and be working in my father’s shop.”
After college graduation, Gerald returned to the Akron Auto Clinic, working along side his father and business partner, Gene Waag.
In 1985, he purchased a 1940 Ford Deluxe Sedan and has been working at restoring it ever since.
However, his career took a different route as Gerald focused on repairing trucks at Heyl Truck Lines, and eventually took his diesel mechanics skills to Sioux City, working at Goldsmith, then Great Plains International, Sioux City Peterbilt and Inland Truck Parts & Sales.
“I’ve been in this about 32 years,” said Gerald.
In September 2013, Gerald decided to return to Akron and reopen his father’s auto repair business, which Norm, at the age of 82, had closed in 2010.
“My dad taught me a lot,” said Gerald. “We did it together.”
“I enjoy working on vehicles,” he said, adding his second love is riding motorcycles, especially his Honda Shadow. One of his favorite places to ride is to the famous Sturgis, S.D. Motorcycle Rally. “I’ve been there five times.”
Gerald is looking forward to working on people’s vehicles again in his hometown. He reopened the Akron Auto Clinic in November 2013.
“You’ll get the same quality work — just like my dad provided the community,” said Gerald, adding “Now it’s my turn.”
Gerald’s specialty is preventive maintenance, including but not limited to oil changes, battery replacements, repairing brakes and checking engine and transmission fluids.
In addition, he has the equipment to tell drivers what those “Check Engine” lights actually mean.
Although Gerald does not fix tires or offer vehicle wheel alignment services, there are a variety of services available, including tune-ups and diesel engine repair.
Just call 568-3324 or stop by the shop at 151 N. Second St. to see if he can help fix your vehicle.
The Akron Auto Clinic is open Monday through Friday from 7:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Gerald is a member of Trinity Lutheran Church, and he has three children: Rachel of Le Mars; and Shelby and Riley, both of Carroll.