BY STEPHANIE FOX
Auto repair shop Action Auto, at 24th Avenue and 38th Street, has been part of the local South Minneapolis Bancroft and Corcoran communities for 42 years, serving loyal customers from the surrounding neighborhoods. About four years ago, owner Kurt Spohn decided it was time to give back to the community.
The small car repair shop is a family affair, run by Kurt and his sons Clint and Jon, who, together with two other long-term employees, made the decision to set aside several days a year to donate a full day’s profits to someone in need. This spring, they chose Mark Wolker, a long-term customer and friend, who is battling brain cancer. The proceeds from all the labor and the mark-ups from parts were delivered to Wolker after closing shop the first Friday in May.
“The neighborhood has supported us when other businesses have gone away,” said son Clint Spohn. “Everyone around here has been a customer, so when we find someone in a tough position, we want to help out. We want to help in any way we can.”
“Mark (Wolker) is a very friendly guy. He always looks on the bright side, even when there doesn’t seem to be a bright side. He’s an all-round nice guy,” Clint said.
“We all enjoy doing this,” said Eric Sorenson, one of the shop’s auto technicians. “They’re the best days of the year. It’s nice to do good. This is a community shop and we can make a difference.”
Not all who came in during the fundraiser for Wolker were from the local community. John Woodside lives in NE Minneapolis, but said he came to get an oil change and to have his front brake pads replaced on his VW Rabbit after he found a Facebook post about the fundraiser. He’s a friend of Wolker, he said, and came to Action Auto to help out. “It’s great when you have someone with medical bills getting this kind of help and support. You don’t see a lot of businesses doing things like this,” he said.
Some regular customers waited until fundraising day to get their needed repairs. And others, like Dasie McRoss, said that she didn’t know about the event when she came in but was glad that her money was going to a good cause. This was, Clint Spohn said, one of their busiest days.
Previous fundraisers have helped others with severe illnesses. In 2013, they raised more than $6,000 to help out a Coaching Program client of Jon Spohn. They helped a family with a baby born with a heart defect and even raised funds for one of the shop’s young technicians who suffered a heart attack. “This list will continue to grow as long as we are able to fix cars,” said Jon. “These days we have helped people are the most important days of my career and we are proud to help out those around us.”
Earlier this year, the Spohn family bought HomeTown Auto in Lakeville, their second auto repair shop, where, on May 26, the crew held another fundraiser, to help out Minnesota State Trooper Derek Haehnel, the father of two, who has a brain tumor.
PHOTO CAPTION: Front row: Clint Spohn, Dustin Ruff, service advisor
Second row: Dave Greenwood, Eric Sorenson, James Sutlief, auto technicians
Not pictured, Kurt Spohn, Jon Spohn and Matt Muller