Friday, 19 January 2018 22:20

One Way Collision, Brickner's Set Sights on Joint Venture in Merrill, WI

Written by Jeremy Ratliff, Merrill Foto News

This spring, two long-time Merrill, WI, entrepreneurs will come together for the sake of a common goal: expanding their respective businesses and in turn, raising the bar on the services they offer to the community.


One Way Collision Center owners Bob and Jane Dehnel and Brickner’s Park City owners Jim and Maria Brickner have provided a combined total of more than 40 years of service to the Merrill community. Each business has enjoyed steady growth since its doors opened, prompting both to pursue past expansion. However, both have come to a point where their services have outgrown the space of their current locations, leading the four to look elsewhere for additional space. This past fall they found what they were looking for in the former Whispering Pines property located at 2600 E. Main St.


“We have been in discussions with Jim and Maria about a possible partnership for about the last five years or so. We both have been looking to expand, and this past September we found the opportunity we were looking for when we learned the Whispering Pines property would soon be available,” Bob explained.


The two businesses will take advantage of the open parcel with the construction of a new 12,000-square-foot home for One Way Collision on the south end of the property, along with an overflow parking area for Brickner’s Park City on the north end.


“Since we opened in 2004, business and our relationships with our customers have been great,” Jane added. “Our growth led us to expand as much as we could in 2010. We have enjoyed continued business growth since then, but now we have come to the point where we have outgrown our present location. The tight quarters have made our work flow less efficient for our employees.”


The new One Way Collision Center will offer service not only to current and future customers, but also to Brickners. The overflow parking space will also be available for the Dehnels and their employees when needed.


Along with increasing efficiency, the new location will allow the Dehnels to double the capacity of their auto collision repair service and allow them to expand their auto paint service by adding another spray booth. The Dehnels plan to take full advantage of the extra space by adding more services, such as spray-on bedliners, truck accessories such as push bars and running boards, and a new drive-in estimate bay.


Plans include the addition of three to four employees, including an estimator, painter and auto body technician, along with additional equipment, which will allow the center to keep pace with the constantly evolving industry trends.


“We’ve been looking forward to doing this for a long time, and now the right opportunity has come along to make this a reality,” said Jim Brickner.


Like One Way Collision Center, steady growth has led to the need for the expansion of Brickner’s Park City, primarily in the used car sales area of the family’s operation. In fact, according to Brickner, the dealership increased its inventory by 90 units last year and hopes to improve its used car and truck inventory by 35--40 more vehicles.


“Space is pretty tight at our current location, so the overflow parking area on the new property will allow us to continue to grow,” he added.


The additional parking space will also increase efficiency for the service and auto rental departments, as they too have seen considerable growth. The expansion entails additional staff for Brickner’s as well, with the recent hire of an auto detail technician and used car sales manager.


Although the former Whispering Pines parcel opening for development has come at the expense of pine trees that previously stood on the property, Brickner assured new trees would be planted and landscaping efforts would take place.


“When the project is completed this summer, it will greatly enhance the gateway to Merrill visually and will also attract even more customers from outside the community for both One Way Collision Center and Brickner’s Park City…which will benefit the entire Merrill Business Community.”


The Dehnels plan to break ground as early this spring as possible, with hopes of construction being completed and open for business by this summer.


Upon vacating their current location at 424 E. 1st Street, the building will be placed for sale.


The city of Merrill purchased the former mobile home park last fall, after the previous owner moved all the homes off the site. The city offered the property to developers in three parcels fronting East Main Street. The Brickner’s/One Way Collision Center development will be on the center parcel. Another local Merrill business, Nelson’s Powerhouse, has closed on the western parcel for construction of a new facility. According to Merrill City Administrator Dave Johnson, the city is negotiating with a well-known, but as-yet unnamed, national business to develop the eastern parcel.


We thank Merrill Foto News for reprint permission.