LIMA — Jim Yarger followed a path familiar to many family-business owners when building his successful automobile body shop.
He began learning the trade on the ground floor at the then Lima Volkswagen dealership. Later he became its body shop manager. When the dealership closed, he saw an opportunity and opened his own body shop in 1983.
Now he finds himself preparing for retirement and handing the business over to the second generation, in this case his daughter, Mandy Slusser.
“It’s been tough,” Yarger admits. “This has been my baby for the last 38 years. You have misgivings about getting out of the business. You wonder, ‘will it be handled the way I want it handled?’ I hope so.”
He began preparing for retirement about five years ago.
“I started by taking a half day off on Thursday, then a full day off. Later, another day in the week was added. Now, I work about three, half days,” he said.
“The key is having quality people working for you. My office manager, Joan Giesken, has been here 25 years. Between her, and now Mandy, they can do pretty much anything that I do as far as estimate writing and dealing with insurance companies”
And the hardest part?
“I’ll definitely miss the customers.”