Dave Van Maanen, co-owner of Ultimate Auto Body & Glass, found his calling during middle school, when he got to design and build a CO² dragster.
“I was probably in the sixth or seventh grade when I knew I wanted to paint cars for a living,” he said. “How crazy is that?”
Maanen, 48, operates his shop in Sheldon, IA, with his wife, Sue. Sue handles the billing and paperwork, while Maanen does what he loves to do most—fix cars.
“I’ll be right honest with you—my favorite part is being in the shop,” he said. “Being in the office—that’s OK—but being out in the shop, that’s my area.”
Maanen has repaired many vehicles throughout his career. Although he has done this for several years, he never gets tired of seeing the transformation that takes place so often—wrecked cars coming in and those same wrecked cars leaving looking brand new.
“When people come and see their car and say, ‘Whoa, I can’t even tell it’s been wrecked,’ I think to myself, ‘Well, yeah, that’s exactly what I want,’” he said.
He practices excellence, because he knows that’s what will make him succeed. He oftentimes tells customers, “If you can tell that your car is damaged, then you need to bring it back.”
Maanen has worked in the automotive collision repair business since 1990 after completing a year of training at, what then was called, Northwest Iowa Technical College in Sheldon.
He landed his first job at Rosenboom Frame & Body in Sheldon and spent the next 17 years there before striking out on his home.
Coincidentally, Rosenboom Frame & Body owner Gary Rosenboom was one of the first graduates of Northwest Iowa Vocational School, which then became Northwest Iowa Technical College, before becoming Northwest Iowa Community College.
As Maanen developed his business plan, he said the word ‘ultimate’ stuck out to him. So, he chose to incorporate the word ‘ultimate’ in the name of his now auto body shop.
“It just fit together,” he said.
Ultimate opened in October 2017 and is located at 3389 Runger St., in the Runger Addition on Sheldon’s growing east side. However, during the shop’s first decade of existence, Maanen operated out of a machine shop on his father’s property, a mile north of Sheldon.
“It felt like it was time to make a move,” Maanen said.
After spending a decade building up his individual reputation, he felt comfortable making the investment into the new shop
Maanen’s customers are primarily in Sheldon, but some of his customers commute from as far as Sioux City and Sioux Falls, SD, thanks to customers who give their word-of-mouth about my business. In addition to his work, he relies on his customer service skills to retain business.
“You just want to do a good job because your reputation—it’s out there,” Maanen said.
“It’s not like Sioux Falls or Sioux City where your next job is around the corner; I count on people coming back—repeat customers. Every customer is important to me,” he said.