Area native comes home, carries on family businessPublished 12:07pm Friday, September 27, 2013
Terry Schmidt has come home.
The 52-year-old Austin native has returned to the community after living in the Twin Cities area for a number of years to continue a family business. He’s the new owner of Viking Auto Glass & Bumper, which was owned and operated by his cousin Fred Schmidt for more than 30 years. And Terry couldn’t be happier.
“I’m really, really loving it here,” he said.
Schmidt’s family owns various businesses throughout town, as his father ran the Theissen Signs shop for many years. Terry worked for his father for two years, in 1992 and 1993, and also ran his own neon sign company. Yet he spent most of his time as a welder-turned-salesman in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area.
He didn’t think he would come back to Austin after living in the Cities for so long, but a phone call from Fred earlier this year caused him to reconsider. Fred was considering retirement and asked if Terry would take over the auto glass repair and auto supply business, “to keep it in the family.”
“It took me a little by surprise,” Terry said. “I had to think about that point of View. Did I want to stay in the Cities, or did I want to move back to the hometown? It made me really think it over.”
Terry rode with Fred on a few sales routes, looked over the business and ultimately made the move toward home. He officially took over the business in June.
A Normandale Communitiy College graduate in business management, Terry said he’s well-acquainted with the business and hopes to expand Viking’s customer base. He employs two part-time glass repair technicians at the moment, but he hopes to hire one or two more employees within a year. In addition, he plans to expand his auto shop supply inventory — he carries paints, sanding supplies, thinners, fillers, and putties, among other things — and expand his sales routes to auto repair shops in southeastern Minnesota and northern Iowa.
Yet Terry is also focused on serving the Austin area’s auto glass needs.
“I believe in shopping locally,” he said.
He is already becoming more involved in Austin. He joined the Austin Area Chamber of Commerce and participated in Austin’s Fourth of July parade. He also plays piano and already has booked several performances throughout the area.
Terry is excited to come back and enjoy the “more calm, comfortable atmosphere” in Austin.
“I love it here,” he said.