Peterson Body & Paint
When people from all over the country need specialized work done on their prized automobiles, it's no surprise they call upon Peterson Body & Paint Inc. in West Point, one of the most diversified automotive businesses anywhere.
Owner Doug Peterson takes immense pride in his 35-year-old business and his community. He is one of the founders of the "Last Fling till Spring" auto show that annually brings more than 700 cars and 10,000 spectators from several states to the Nebraska community of about 3,400 residents.
"My grandfather settled here from Sweden in the 1880s, not five miles from where I'm sitting," Peterson says. "I'm about as local as you can get."
Besides himself, Peterson employs 19 people in a newly-expanded facility that covers a full spectrum of auto repairs, from collision service to custom restorations. His business includes an accessory showroom, a vinyl and graphic arts shop, and a semi truck downdraft heated spray booth. Peterson Graphics also offers large format, outdoor and indoor printing, from posters and banners to signage and tradeshow displays. He says growth has been consistent through the years because of the high-quality work the Peterson team delivers. "To have the equipment and facilities I wanted," he says, "we had to be very good at what we are doing."
Though collision repair accounts for the majority of the company's revenue in 2013, "Restoration is where my heart is," Peterson says.
His shop has restored everything from early 1900s Model Ts to a 1955 Union Pacific caboose. This winter, the projects included restoration of a training model Vietnam-era cruise missile destined for a museum in Branson, Mo.
"It's about 20 feet long," he says. "It shipped here in a 2,000-pound crate from Oregon."
No matter the job, Peterson and his crew put the customer first. "From simple oil changes to the most high-end restorations, every one of my customers is important," he says.
When Peterson started the business April 1, 1978, it consisted of a small, two-stall repair shop. Over time, Peterson Body & Paint expanded to eight stalls and two additional buildings.
In 1998, while seeking financing to expand his business again by building a 20,000-square-foot repair facility, Peterson sought the services of Loren Kucera, director of the Nebraska Business Development Center office in Wayne. Peterson says Kucera has been a trusted advisor and friend ever since.
"I can't tell you how much Loren cares about me, my business and everyone else he works with," Peterson says. "He is the kind of dedicated person who helps make you a success."
Since coming to Kucera and NBDC in 1998, Peterson has been able to quadruple his total sales and number of employees. His son, Tony, has joined the company and handles day-to-day operations.
"Fourteen years ago, NBDC helped give me the chance I needed to grow my business," Peterson says. "That means a lot to me and to our community."