It was the spring of 1961 when Jerry and Lorena Buckley set down roots on 40 acres of land about three miles west of Big Lake on Highway 10.
Within the year, the couple moved a trailer house onto the property and made it their home.
The same year, Jerry and Lorena opened an auto salvage business on the property, naming it Jerry’s Auto Parts.
Today, Jerry and Lorena’s dream continues to live on as Jerry’s Auto Salvage on the same 40 acres Jerry and Lorena settled upon in 1961.
And the home that replaced the trailer house — the home where Jerry and Lorena raised their family of three children — still stands today serving as the office and headquarters of Jerry’s Auto Salvage.
But just like the seasons, Jerry’s Auto Service has seen its fair amount of change.
Lorena passed away unexpectedly in October 2002. In 2013 the two were united again after Jerry passed away after a courageous battle with lung cancer.
Long before Jerry became ill. his son Mike Buckley and daughter Mary Lemke purchased the business. Mike joined the corporation in 1978. Mary joined the corporation in 1986. In January 2004, Jerry retired and Mike and Mary assumed full ownership of Jerry’s Auto Salvage.
On Aug. 15, Jerry’s Auto Salvage will reach the end of the line.
Nearly 60 years after being founded by Jerry and Lorena Buckley, the salvage business is closing up shop.
“It’s time,” Mike Buckley said.
Not unlike his father, Mike has put in decades of long, six-day work weeks. It’s not unheard of that the work schedule expands to seven days per week.
At 60 years old, long work weeks make for a tired owner, Mike said.
Mary, not too far behind Mike in age, puts in a lot of hours, too, compounded by her commute between the lakes: Her home in Prior Lake and business in Big Lake.
As Mike started talking about slowing down, Mary started liking the idea, especially because it would give her more time to spend with the grandkids.
So Mike and Mary decided to retire. They’re going out together — the same way they operated the business for the past 15 years.
With none of Mike or Mary’s children interested in taking over the business, the decision was made to close the doors because there was no “next generation” to carry on the Jerry’s Auto Salvage name.
The decision was made much easier when an opportunity came along to lease the Jerry’s land and facilities to CoPart, an auto auction business that was looking to expand beyond the half of 35 usable acres on the Jerry’s property.
“It all fell into place,” Mike said.
On June 1, Mike and the Jerry’s Auto Salvage team of employees began the daunting task of removing all the cars and trucks from the site. After about seven weeks of transporting vehicles to a metal recycling facility, all but about six cars remained on site, Mary pointed out.
While walk-in sales for auto parts will cease on Aug. 15, Jerry’s Auto Salvage will continue to have a pulse for some time into the future.
With warehouses full of auto parts, parts will continue to be sold and shipped through Jerry’s e-commerce store on eBay.
The key to 60 years of successful business was due to a great foundation laid by Jerry and Lorena, and the determination of Mike and Mary to continue the legacy of their parents.
But even more important, Mike and Mary agree, is the employees who over the years made the daily operations possible at Jerry’s Auto Salvage.
“We had good — no — great employees,” Mary said.
“Over the years we had great employees,” Mike agreed. “Some had been with us for over 40 years.”