Just three years ago, Nemnich Automotive was operating out of a cramped, 15-foot by 40-foot shop in Scottsbluff. "We could fit two cars back-to-back, and that's it," says owner Erik Nemnich.
Today, Nemnich Automotive occupies a new, 5,000-square-foot building in nearby Gering. The building features six bays for repairs, an office, and living space for Erik, his wife and fellow certified mechanic Stacy, and their dogs, Crankshaft and Piston.
In addition to automobile repairs, detailing, diagnostics, performance modifications and custom dyno-tuning, the business now includes a storage facility on the new property featuring single door access on 20 units and full drive through access on five. Each unit is fully insulated and has motion lights for added security.
Impressive growth in sales since opening its doors March 17, 2011 has led to the need for additional space and two more workers, bringing the number of employees including Erik and Stacy to four.
"We've enjoyed well over 200 percent increases in gross sales every year," Nemnich says.
Nemnich started in automotive work in Scottsbluff in 2001. When he and Stacy opened their first shop in 2011, Nemnich was also working in train service for the Union Pacific Railroad. Positive word-of-mouth brought in more and more business, and in April 2012 Nemnich gave up the railroad job to work full time with his wife.
"We went from our first shop to a bigger shop with an office in May 2011," Nemnich recalls. "We took that office and converted it into an apartment for us. My goal was to minimize our expenses and invest all we could into tools and equipment."
Initially, customization accounted for about 40 percent of the business. Today, that figure has dropped to about 10 percent as demand increases for standard auto repairs.
When it came time to build a more spacious building, Nemnich first went to a local bank. "They wanted to see sales projections," he says, "but I didn't have them. They suggested I go see Ingrid Battershell."
Battershell is the director of the Nebraska Business Development Center's office in Scottsbluff. She provided assistance with Nemnich's cash flow projections and with the paperwork for a Small Business Administration 504 loan application for the new construction.
"Ingrid really helped to organize all the data I had in my head and put it all on paper," Nemnich says. "She believed in the project, too."
After helping secure the loan, Battershell kept in contact with Nemnich, offering advice and assistance. "It was really neat," he says. "She even came over a week before our grand opening and asked if there was anything she could do."
Nemnich says the guidance Battershell and NBDC provide have made a profound difference in his business.
"Even if I would have had to pay for all their services, it would have been worth it," he says. "Everything Ingrid did was amazing."