Wednesday, 26 January 2022 15:36

Valentine Auto Body in Waterloo, IL, Changes Hands

Written by Madison Lammert, Republic-Times


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After more than 40 years owning and operating Valentine Auto Body, Ken Valentine has retired, entrusting the business to close friend and fellow auto expert Rodney Cissell

The story of Valentine Auto Body started approximately 54 years ago when Valentine’s father Wes opened the Waterloo, IL, shop in 1968 after operating State Street Auto Body in East St. Louis for many years. 


“He was pretty much a self-trained auto body man who never ran a business before but wanted a business for himself,” Valentine said of his father. “You want something of your own, you know how to do it, you can do it, and there was only one other auto body shop in town at the time, so he thought he could go out on his own without a problem. It’s been going well ever since.” 


Valentine’s father taught him all he needed to know to run the business---from painting to replacing parts and everything in between.  


“I pretty much learned everything from him, also the business aspect of it, meaning how to deal with a customer, how to make sure they were happy,” Valentine said. “If there was a problem, [I learned] how to take care of a problem. You do whatever you have to do to make it work, as any other businessman would do.”


By the time Valentine was in his early 20s, he had taken over the business and has seen many changes in the industry since. Valentine said as cars have become more advanced, so has welding, painting and other techniques. As Monroe County’s population grew, Valentine had a lot more vehicles to fix. 


In the beginning, many decisions rested on the driver. Now, the insurance companies call the majority of the shots, Valentine said. 


“The customer would have insurance and they would wreck the car and then the insurance would dictate how the car was repaired, meaning what parts we used, whether it was new parts, whether it was used parts or aftermarket parts,” Valentine said. “That has all changed over the years.” 


Technological advancements are the largest shift the industry has experienced, Valentine said. Other than...

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