Countryside Body Shop in Sioux Center, IA, Changes Owners, Name

Countryside Body Shop in Sioux Center, IA, Changes Owners, Name

Three rural Sioux Center, IA, businesses gained new ownership as of Jan. 1.

Arlin and Janene Van Gorp sold their businesses---Countryside Body Shop, Countryside Signs and A & J Self Storage---to Sioux County natives Joel and Allison De Weerd.

Countryside Body Shop’s name is now JJ Customs Autobody & Sales. Countryside Signs and A & J Self Storage will remain the same.

“This transition means everything,” Joel De Weerd said. “I’ve been looking to get back into the area for six years now. We’re excited to be back and raise our son around family and friends.

“Growing up in this area, I’ve always admired what Arlin and Janene have done. Not only as business owners but as church leaders and friends. It is the biggest dream come true to be able to continue adding on to what they have built. I know we have some huge shoes to fill, but we are willing to put in the work and are excited to give the community another 40 years of service.”

Arlin Van Gorp opened Countryside Body in 1983.

“I grew up just four and a half miles east of here on a dairy and I decided at about 12 years old that’s not what I wanted to do with the rest of my life,” Van Gorp said.

He went to Northwest Iowa Community College in Sheldon for part of his junior and senior years in high school, graduating in 1974 and started working at J & R Bodyshop in Orange City. After about four years, he worked at Siouxbody Shop in Sioux Center until he opened his own business.

In 1994, he bought J & R Bodyshop, changing its name to Elite Auto Body. He owned that business for 12 years before selling it to his shop manager.

“I started my shop because I wanted to be by own boss,” he said.

Van Gorp, 67, was 27 years old when he made that move---the same age Joel is currently.

“It was a leap of faith as a young guy; I’m excited to give Joel this next stepping stone, too.” Van Gorp said. “I thought I was going to stay here forever, just cut back, but I tried slowing down and people kept coming. I came to the realization I needed to sell and step away if I really wanted to slow down.”

One name came to mind for that opportunity.

De Weerd has 10 years auto body experience, three years of which was working for Van Gorp while he attended Dordt College, 2013-15.

“It was a God thing when Joel worked for us,” Janene said. “He was a young kid and would walk around and say some day he’s going to own this place … God orchestrates the past to plan for the future. Us hiring Joel 10 years ago was God orchestrating the past to bring us to where we are today.”

De Weerd’s original goal when going to Dordt was to design cars. In talking with a high school guidance counselor, they recommended trying auto body work.

De Weerd started at one auto body shop and then moved to Countryside Body while attending Dordt.

“After the first semester of taking a class learning about lines, I knew graphic design this wasn’t for me. I needed something hands on and I realized I can’t spend so much time behind a computer,” De Weerd said. “In working for the body shops, I started to love fixing up vehicles, designing them and putting my own twist on it, taking something that was crinkled up and making it new again. I fell in love with it.”

De Weerd graduated from Dordt with a two-year business degree, hoping one day to own his own body shop. He spent time managing hogs and then as a feedmill operator while fixing cars on the side before the opportunity to start his own auto body shop in Sutherland came up six years ago.

“I bought it out of opportunity, but it was never where I wanted to be,” he said. “I always wanted to be here in Sioux County. I’m the fourth out of five kids. All my siblings are within eight miles of here. We’re married, have kids. We hated being out of the loop being so far away.”

De Weerd even drove an hour every Sunday to continue going to Maurice Reformed Church, where he first met the Van Gorps as a 3-year-old child. Later on, the couple were even his high school youth group sponsors.

De Weerd and the Van Gorps started talking about the transition about six months ago.

“It means everything to be back here,” De Weerd said. “I’ve dreamed about this for years.”

“We have known Joel for many years and assure everyone of his integrity, his trustworthiness and the quality of his work,” Van Gorp said.

As the Van Gorps wait for their twin home to be built by June, they plan to live in their RV in Arizona for the winter and possibly at Sandy Hollow Recreation Area for a little while.

“I’m excited for less responsibility and to enjoy some time off and traveling,” Van Gorp said.

De Weerd and his wife, Allison, moved to the Countryside Body acreage with their 1-year-old son, Jetson. His dad, Gary De Weerd, will join him in the shop and his brothers may also on occasion as De Weerd is in need of their mechanical and welding expertise.

JJ Customs Autobody & Sales offers auto body repair as well as custom accessories from B & W trailer hitches, Rough Country Suspension systems, Gatorback mudflaps, Huskly liners, Weathertech lines and AMP Research steps, Truxedo access, Lund International accessories as well as Scorpio bed liners and window films.

De Weerd is also a licensed dealer to sell used vehicles.

We thank Sioux Center News for reprint permission.

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