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Luby’s has it all

By Staff | Jan 10, 2008

TERRIL–Take a mechanic, a tire expert, some convenience store items, on-farm service, a lubrication center and small town friendliness and wrap them all together.

What do you get?

Luby’s in Terril.

“We pretty much do it all,” said shop owner/manager Dave Laubenthal.

Luby’s offers customers everything a full-service garage in a large city offers, from tires to a major overhaul. Laubenthal is ASE certified and a Chevrolet Master Technician. Luby’s also is an Auto Value Certified Automotive Center.

He and his full-time tire guy Wayne Johnson service motor vehicles as well as some farm equipment. They also offer tire retail and do on-the-spot tire and mechanic work.

That’s only the beginning.

Luby’s also offers soda pop, candy, chips, drinks and much of what any other convenience store would and you can’t forget about the gas pumps. The shop even serves as a coffee shop from time to time as customers come in to chat throughout the day.

All of Laubenthal’s services and merchandise are reasonably priced, but there’s one thing he and his employees hand out free.

“The only thing free around here is the advice,” said clerk Joan Cate.

She and Laubenthal said Luby’s employees always are willing to give a little of that.

“And a lot of times you don’t even have to ask,” Cate added.

The shop has it’s own niche in it’s hometown of Terril–a niche that Jerry Zelinsky knew needed filled when he opened his shop 52 years ago.

Laubenthal, a Spencer resident and graduate of Terril High School, purchased the business, formerly known as Zelinsky’s Service Center Inc., on June 29, 2007, from Jerry’s sons who had taken over the business when their father retired three years prior.

He already had worked at the shop seven years.

“I just always wanted to own my own place,” Laubenthal said. “And I figured this was as good of a place as any to have–good old small town USA.”

He has a history, if you will, with the mechanics field, starting when he was just a young man working on farm equipment with his farmer/mechanic foster father.

When he graduated from high school his first choice of study in college was the automotive program but Iowa Lakes Community College in Emmetsburg didn’t have any openings.

So he took the next best thing–parts, sales and distribution.

Upon graduating college, he started working at KMart in the automotive department. From there, he went to work for a gentleman with an independent business, then Don Pierson Ford for two years, Great Lakes GM-Toyota for two years and eventually landed at H&N for nine years.

Following that employment, Laubenthal became a supervisor at Mauer Manufacturing in Spencer where he built the wiring harness the company now uses for its semi trailers and then moved into quality control before purchasing Luby’s.

All together, Laubenthal has 28 years of experience in the mechanic and automotive fields.

But Luby’s is about more than its owner’s passion for vehicles. It’s all about the customers.

“Sometimes I think he lives here,” Laubenthal said about his tire man Johnson.

“A lot of times it’s 9 p.m. and I’m still in here doing stuff for people,” Johnson said.

“We have an awesome customer base,” Laubenthal said.

Luby’s customer base is so “awesome” that business also is “awesome,” according to Laubenthal.

“We’re buried,” he said. “We took this week off to get caught up with some stuff we have left over from ’07 and that’s not going to happen. It’s unbelievable.”

Luby’s has customers from a wide radius, from Estherville, Milford, the Lakes, Ruthven, Spencer, Graettinger, Greenville and of course Terril.

“The customers are great,” Cate said. “It’s always the customers who make a business. They’re the best advertisement you can get.”

The shop even still offers service at the pump (even though it was switched to self serve when Laubenthal took over) to those older folks who not only have been long-time customers but have come to enjoy the full-service treatment.

So with a full plate, supportive customers and a love for their profession, the staff at Luby’s is looking forward to the future–one that looks promising.

Laubenthal recently purchased a piece of property immediately to the south of his shop.

Expansion plans?

“You could say that,” he said.

But those plans still are not set in stone. He does know, however, he wants to add another bay large enough for a combine. Great Lakes Co-op, to which Laubenthal has leased his gas pumps to, also soon will put in 24/7 cardtrol gas pumps.

So if you need tires, engine work, a soda, a candy bar, any other automotive or convenience store services or just a friendly face to chat with stop in at Luby’s on the southeast corner of the four-way stop in Terril.

Chances are, the shop won’t only have what you need, you’ll walk away with a smile on your face.

Contact Nathan Christophel at (712) 362-2622 or editor@esthervilledailynews.com and visit our photo sharing Web site at cu.esthervilledailynews.com