Friday, 30 March 2018 13:00

Middlebrook Auto and Collision Continues for Five Generations in Iowa

Written by Melody Keilig, CorydonTimes.com
Jeffrey and Mike Middlebrook stand in their new body shop. Jeffrey and Mike Middlebrook stand in their new body shop. Photo by Melody Keilig.


Mike Middlebrook has been working in the auto mechanic industry for 25 years, but his experience started at age 14 when he started helping his father, Dennis Middlebrook, in the shop with various engines and auto parts.

Just like his father, Mike has been officially working under his auto mechanic certification since he graduated from Indian Hills Community College in Ottumwa, IA.


“It’s always what I wanted to do,” Mike said.


His son, Jeffrey Middlebrook, 21, also started helping out in the shop when he was around 14 years old, and is now employed full-time by the family business.


Jeffrey also graduated from Indian Hills, but his specialty is auto body painting. He said that he was always more interested in making the vehicles look nice, but he also does some auto mechanic work. The paint room in the shop is known as his area, where he can mix any kind of paint.


“I was more into the painting side of things,” Jeffrey said. “I was more into the looks of the vehicles and making them look nice---not so much the mechanic side.”


Middlebrook Auto started with Floyd Middlebrook, Mike’s great-grandfather, when the standard station was built in 1939. Mert, Mike’s grandfather, built the building that now houses the body shop in the 1950s. The building was recently redone with a new work and office space.

Although the auto shop has been in the family for five generations, other members of the Middlebrook family have found other job fields. Mendy Middlebrook, Mike’s wife, works at the courthouse in town. Their younger son, Jared, 17, attends Wayne Community High School and plans to get into the real estate business. Kay Middlebrook, Dennis’ wife, is retired from her position as the Wayne County Assessor, but still serves as the shop’s bookkeeper.


The new addition to the Middlebrook Auto and Collision building was a community effort. Mike said that without the help of his family and friends, remodeling wouldn’t have been possible. The electrical work was done by Charles Hodkins, the concrete by Craig Onstont, his son, Dusty, and son-in-law, Dustin, and the plumbing by John Buttz of Southern Iowa Plumbing and Clayton Plumbing and Heating.


“Everyone that worked for me did excellent work,” Mike said.


As for future plans for the business, Mike said they will be tearing down the building out front that was once known as the Dairy Sweet to build a parking lot for the shop. Since its end in 1983, the building has remained standing. The family bought the building back in the 1990s.


A lot has changed over the years, especially the types of vehicles Mike worked on as a teenager.


“Technology has changed the vehicle dramatically,” he said. “I grew up on the old carburetors and points, distributors. You don’t even have a distributor today. Things are distributor-less.”


As time passes, the auto industry and new vehicles are bound to continue changing, as well as the future of Middlebrook Auto and Collision itself.


Jeffrey said he can see himself continuing the family business, and Mike said he is proud to have him working in the auto shop.


We thank CorydonTimes.com for reprint permission.