Daryl and Char Kubicek
Daryl Kubicek has always been a busy guy.
At the ripe old age of 12, he began work at his Dad’s auto repair shop. By the time he was 15, he had begun work on a 1969 Dodge with a 440-Wedge motor, and finished that project just a year later. By the time he was 18, he had built a Dodge Charger and has since built and worked on dozens of race cars.
But that’s only the tip of the spark plug.
Kubicek was just 16 when he bought out a local radiator shop (formerly Ron’s Radiator Shop) for $1,000. Four years later, on April 1, 1981, Kubicek bought the shop at 1125 South Oak Avenue he still occupies today as Hometown Motors. At that time, it was a Mobil gas station and repair shop owned by Orville “Bud” Baldus. At 62, Baldus had decided to retire. He knew of Kubicek’s talents and reputation and, “I think Bud was just as surprised as I was that the whole deal happened as easily as it did,” Kubicek said. The shop had two service bays and one lift. Kubicek operated his radiator business, did limited repairs and sold tires at this location until it was decided that Oak Avenue was to be made wider.
“That was in 1986, and you have to remember that Oak was only a two-lane street. Bud’s shop sat closer to the road but still had pretty much the same lot depth we have now. But when they came through to tear up the street, we had to pull the gas tanks because they would have been under the new road.
“After the road construction was complete we became ‘Mufflers Plus’ and slowly got into more auto shop work as well as specializing in mufflers. I was always busy, and time just flew by. Pretty soon we just didn’t have enough room for all the business we had, so we put up the ‘Hometown Motors’ building in 1999 and tore down the other one. We went from 1,800 square feet to over 6,000 square feet,” Kubicek explained.
Having a much larger facility not only gave Kubicek more shop space, but allowed him to move his tire sale racks from outdoors to an indoor display – making it more comfortable for both his customers and Kubicek as well. “That gave us a better layout in the lot. I’ve been selling cars practically since I was a kid, but I never had enough room to display everything I had to offer. I can do that now, too,” he said of his used car lot in front of the building.
Considering how long he’s been in business, Kubicek’s staffing needs haven’t changed much. “I started out alone, and I’m up to five employees now, including my wife Char. But I don’t count her so much as an employee because she’s my business partner and CFO. She’s always been so good with money and finances since Day One of our marriage. So she keeps track of all the financials, does the billing and the paying – she pretty much runs the place,” he laughed. “At least, she always tells ME what to do!”
It hasn’t been “all work and no play” for Kubicek. Through the years he’s sponsored countless athletic teams for Owatonna youngsters, as well as participating in and sponsoring 4-H events and activities with his kids. The couple loves to attend business events and especially social events, including those concerning the Owatonna Area Chamber of Commerce, where Kubicek has recently begun serving as an Ambassador.
But he’s still a busy guy.
“Having the great crew I have has allowed me to do some other things and explore some other opportunities. I also sell the storage sheds to the south of us here, and I own 7 rental houses around town. And I’ve also started a new company called ‘Midwest LED Signs’ which is actually the biggest business for me right now. I’d really like to spend more time with that,” he said.
And he will. Kubicek plans to slowly phase out of the world of motor vehicles, but not right away. “I think LED lighting is what I want to spend my time on now. It’s a hot commodity and there are endless opportunities. Now is the perfect time to get that dream moving forward.”
Even though he can see 60 on the near horizon, Kubicek has no intention of retiring, or even slowing down. Not even a little bit.
“We love to spend time with our grandkids, and do that as often as we can. But I’ve also started competing in marathons and have done pretty well with that. I just ran in a huge marathon in Hawaii and I was really pleased with my finish. And now Char has started running also, and it’s something we can do together.
“I’ve really been blessed in my life. I’ve always been able to do the things I love, my businesses have been successful, and I’ve had no real setbacks that I can think of,” he shared.
Kubicek says his path to success is simple.
“You’ve got to have foresight, work hard and always watch for opportunities. And isn’t that really the definition of ‘entrepreneur’?” he laughed.
- Authored By Lisa Richmond