Monday, 26 October 2020 11:25

A New Repair Shop in Town

Written by Kevin Mertens, Faribault County Register
John Koestler stands outside of his shop, which used to be the home of Paul’s Exhaust and Auto Service. Koestler is a veteran who has returned to the Blue Earth area to do a job he loves. His shop is open Monday through Friday. John Koestler stands outside of his shop, which used to be the home of Paul’s Exhaust and Auto Service. Koestler is a veteran who has returned to the Blue Earth area to do a job he loves. His shop is open Monday through Friday.


Drivers entering Blue Earth, MN, from the east end of town on County Road 16 have probably noticed a new business as they come up the hill by the Blue Earth Stockyards.

Circle K Auto Repair is open and operating where Paul Knudtson used to conduct business at Paul’s Exhaust and Auto Service.


John Koestler, the owner of Circle K Auto Repair, opened his new business in the middle of August.


“Owning my own shop is something I always wanted to do,” Koestler said. “I just did not know when it would happen.”


The Blue Earth native followed quite an interesting path to reach his current destination.


“I graduated from Blue Earth Area High School in 2004,” he said. “And I was able to take some interesting classes while I was in school.”


One of those classes was the Super High Mileage class.


“We took our entry up to the Brainerd International Speedway,” Koestler recalled. “And our vehicle achieved 523 miles per gallon.”


He was also on a team which competed in the Ford AAA Auto Skills Competition.


“I enjoyed that and had the highest score on our team,” Koestler noted.

He took the summer off after high school before enlisting in the U.S. Army, where he became a light-wheel vehicle mechanic.


“I then became an all-wheel mechanic,” Koestler explained. “But I decided to become a forklift operator so I could deploy.”


He had deployments in Iraq, Afghanistan and Kuwait.


“I eventually served as the shop foreman at Bagram Air Base in Parvan Province, Afghanistan,” Koestler said. “I was honorably discharged in 2015. I loved being a soldier but I can make more money and a better living outside of the service.”


He said his time in the service gave him some valuable experience.


“Being in Iraq was very interesting because we did not have many tools so working on vehicles was challenging,” Koestler said. “Then I went to Kuwait and I had all kinds of tools available to use.”


When he returned to the Blue Earth area, he worked for various automobile repair shops, including Flaherty Auto when they were in Fairmont and Jay’s Shop in Blue Earth.


Jay Johnson owned Jay’s at the time and he saw potential in me,” Koestler said. “So he added another stall to his business and I had a job.”


The name Circle K has some family history. His father once owned Circle K Auto Body and his brother, who lives in Mora, owns Circle K Septic and Excavating.

Koestler said he will do just about any kind of work but, ironically, one item he does not care to do is custom exhaust work, which is something the shop formally located at his site, Paul’s Exhaust and Auto Service, would do.


“A good exhaust man who will do custom jobs has some real talent,” he said. “It is almost an art.”


Koestler has two stalls at his shop and both have hoists to raise vehicles up in the air when needed.


“Right now I am working on building my business,” he said. “My normal hours are from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday. I also will do some jobs by appointment on Saturdays.”


He is also a dealer for Matheson Gas and has argon, oxygen and acetylene gases available for sale.


Of course, like many self-employed business owners, Koestler sometimes works past closing time.


“There are jobs I want to complete and not leave until the next day so there are times when I will stick around the shop to complete a task,” he said.


He works on cars and pickups, and will also do light diesel work.


“I will do the simple things like changing oil and rotating tires,” Koestler explained. “I can also change engines, transmissions, ball joints and U-joints. One of my strong points is in electrical diagnostics.”

With the Blue Earth area getting its first taste of winter this past week, Koestler said it is a good time to do some preventative maintenance on your vehicles.


“Have your batteries tested,” he reminded people. “When it gets cold outside a weak battery will not have the power to start your vehicle.”


It is not the only thing which needs checking, according to Koestler.


“Tire pressure is affected by the change in temperatures so make sure your tires are properly inflated,” he said. “It is also a good time to have your brakes looked at and to check your antifreeze.”


Koestler said he enjoys helping keep people on the road.


“Change the oil, keep up on maintenance and today’s vehicles will run a long time,” he said.


And when you need someone to work on your vehicle, Koestler said Circle K Auto Repair is ready to help.


We thank the Faribault County Register for reprint permission.