Auto body shop owners say it’s time to move on

Rieck brothers who will be honored by Chamber as outstanding citizens want to sell family business after decades in Grafton

ROBERT (LEFT) AND RICHARD RIECK of Heinz & Sons 57 Auto Body have owned the repair and paint shop in downtown Grafton for 32 years after taking over their late father’s business. The Grafton Area Chamber of Commerce recently named the twin brothers Outstanding Citizens. Photo by Sam Arendt
By 
JOE POIRIER
Ozaukee Press Staff

Heinz & Sons 57 Auto Body has been situated in downtown Grafton for 56 years. However, owners Robert and Richard Rieck want to sell the family business by spring to pursue other opportunities.

“It would be nice if someone took the business over and kept it going, especially after all these years. It will be tough,” Richard said. “We have a lot of customers who are upset about that, but I have arthritis so it’s very difficult on me.”

Richard said he wants to become an insurance claims adjuster because of all the accidents he has dealt with over the years. Robert is considering an early retirement to travel with his wife.

“My wife is retired, and we always wanted to get a motor home and go south for the winter,” he said.

The twin brothers are 55 and have owned the auto body and paint shop at 1327 Wisconsin Ave. for 32 years. They took over the company from their late father Heinz.

“Back then, when our dad opened up the shop, Highway 57 ran through here. There was no freeway then, and that’s why 57 is in the company’s name,” Richard said. 

The Riecks have been working in the shop since they were 13, fetching tools and cleaning up after their father.

At 16, they painted their first car when their parents were out of town.

“It was a green 1972 MG. It came out nice and our dad was impressed,” Richard said. “We were always watching and learning from him, which made it a pretty smooth transition when we took over.”

As the years progressed and vehicles evolved, the brothers adapted with the times.

“We can work on any type of car. As the materials and paints changed, we would change with it,” Robert said.

They said their shop is like a time capsule set in the developing downtown district in Grafton.

“This place has been here forever and it’s a staple for the downtown area. Parking can be an issue for customers sometimes, but we’re impressed with all the new development here,” Richard said.

The brothers said their two-man shop is typically booked for repairs a few weeks in advance, but this season they have appointments already set through December.

“Unfortunately, I think we’re going to lose a lot of jobs this winter because we’re already booked. There’s usually a lot of deer hits and accidents with the snow,” Robert said. “If the cars are not drivable, we’ll try to squeeze them in.”

Most of their customers are from Grafton, Port Washington and Cedarburg. One longtime customer drives from Minnesota for repairs on his truck. 

“We’re now fixing cars for kids of old customers,” Richard said. “We know everybody, and that’s one great thing about owning this shop for all these years.”

Last week, the brothers were named recipients of the Grafton Area Chamber of Commerce’s Outstanding Citizens Award for their dedication and service in the community. They will be recognized during the Chamber’s awards ceremony on Sunday, Nov. 24.

“We were extremely surprised. We had no idea,” Robert said. “Through the last 32 years, we’ve tried to help out the community whenever we got the chance. Having our business gave us the chance to do that. We’ve donated hundreds of coupons for a free wash and wax for charity raffles.”

The brothers are credited for supporting a number of local charities and organizations. In the past, they have painted truck trailers for the Grafton police and fire departments.

They said they are most proud of founding the Sons of the American Legion post in Grafton 11 years ago since their father served in Europe during World War II and six of their brothers fought in Vietnam.

They also started the annual Christmas tree lighting ceremony in the Paramount Plaza in 1999, when Richard was a trustee with the Grafton Village Board.

Their company was recognized by the Chamber in 2005 with the Business of the Year Award.

The brothers said they have a few people interested in buying their building, but haven’t heard from anyone continuing the auto repair business.

Robert’s son Ryan is a mechanic at the Grafton Mobil gas station, but isn’t interested in taking over.

“He never really liked auto body work,” Robert said.

In the meantime, the brothers said they will keep their noses to the grindstone.

“We have a lot of memories here, and we want to make some more while we’re still in the shop,” Richard said. “This has been a great experience keeping our dad’s legacy alive.” 

 

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Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

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