ELLIS — Guy Riedel knows what it takes to run a successful business. Part of it is having a supportive community. That’s why, with his newest venture, he’s decided to give something back.
With every purchase of a vehicle at Auto Standard in Ellis, the used-car dealership donates $100 to an Ellis County nonprofit of the buyer’s choice.
Auto Standard opened in October at the corner of 10th and Dorrance streets after a months-long refurbishment of a building that had been used as storage and a boat shop before that.
It had been 22 years since the city turned on the water meter in the building, Riedel said, and it needed gutting.
“I saw this property here that was just dilapidated, hadn’t been worked on for years. And I thought, man, there’s some opportunity there. I saw some good bones in the building. The cinder block was all in great shape and the concrete floors were in pretty good shape, so I knew there was potential here to get it back to where it was,” he said.
Where the Lustron porcelain-enameled building started was in the 1950s as a Standard Oil service shop — hence, the name Auto Standard. In restoring the building, Riedel, who also owns a landscaping construction business, kept some of the original touches, refurbishing some of the original service equipment. He even has an old gas pump that he plans to set in front of the building.
Since starting the donation program at the beginning of the year, Auto Standard has given $2,700, manager Belinda DeWerff said.
Much of that has gone to organizations in Ellis, such as St. Mary’s Catholic School, the Ellis Junior Free Fair, the Community Foundation of Ellis’ food pantry, Christ Lutheran Church, Ellis Baptist Church, Washington Grade School and the VFW.
In addition, this month, Auto Standard is offering the option of a $100 discount for active or veteran military and police personnel. So far, three buyers have taken advantage of that.
“The fact that we got a pretty good outpouring of the community coming and spending money with us, we want to do something back. We want people to know that yes, we’re in business to be successful, but we wouldn’t be successful if it wasn’t for them,” Riedel said.
Riedel, a WaKeeney native, said he hopes Auto Standard’s success inspires more business in Ellis and other small communities.
“We need to have more entrepreneurs that are willing to take chances like this and make an investment into the towns, whether it's Ellis, Victoria, the small towns around Hays and larger cities, to keep them alive,” he said.