On the Road: Car repair shop earns good reputation

Published 12:00 am Thursday, January 30, 2003

"Blooming Prairie has been very good to me," says Robert Salinas, the owner of Robert's Repair in Blooming Prairie.

Salinas has been a mechanic since 1983 and has been at his present site on Highway 30 for the last six years. There are four full-time mechanics at Robert's Repair. They are Salinas, Brian Madsen, Angel Escamilla and his son, Eddie Escamilla. Angel Escamilla has worked for Salinas for 11 years. Madsen is well known in Blooming Prairie for his mechanical expertise because he grew up in the Blooming Prairie area. Eddie Escamilla has worked for Robert's Repair for two months.

Robert's Repair is a bevy of activity. There are cars in the shop being looked at and cars in the parking lot waiting to be looked after. These four men are not afraid to get down and dirty to get a car revved up and running without any problems. Most of the work they do comes from car dealers. They have clientele from as far away as Lake City, St. Charles and towns in the surrounding 30-mile radius. Some of their clients are AutoAmerica, Motor Inn, Hursh Motors, Ron Hiese, and Pratt Black Smith Shop.

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"Most of our work comes by word of mouth. The winter is usually our busiest time. We like to show and tell our customers what we are doing as far as the work on their cars. We use a program on our computer called Shopkey that has graphics of car parts and trouble shoots problems," Salinas said.

Vehicle repair involves more mental abilities than when Salinas first started out in the business 20 years ago. It can be dangerous, too, as he lost the tip of his right pinky 10 years ago when he got it caught between a flywheel and a starter. The warmer-than-usual winters the last two years have not been as wearing on cars and this has affected business somewhat, he said. Robert's Repair also has a large shed attached to their building where they have cold storage for vehicles.

Salinas is very family-orientated and has photos of his wife, daughter and four sons hanging in his shop. He grew up in Plainview, Texas. He has been married to Gloria, who works at the Blooming Prairie Elementary, for 22 years. His daughter, Brenda, is a physician's assistance in Elk River. His sons, Robert, Ramiro, Steven and Jay, have all made their mark being heavily involved in the Blooming Prairie wrestling program. Robert is now a marine and has been called to active duty. Ramiro attends Rochester Community College. Steven is a junior at Blooming Prairie High School and Jay is a sophomore. Their dad hopes they will be wrestling at the state level this year.

The family is active in the community. Gloria is a Sunday school teacher at St. Columbanus. Salinas is in the Knights of Columbus and he helps out with high school wrestling in the weight room three times a week.

"I stay in good shape lifting weights too," he said.

Sheila Donnelly can be reached at 434-2233 or by e-mail at :mailto:newsroom@austindailyherald.com