Berg sells equipment, no plans to retire

Staff photo by Fritz Busch Dick Berg stands next to a 1977 GMC Sierra Grande 35 tow truck he plans to sell as part of the sale of his business, Dick’s Auto Repair & Towing, 101 S. Broadway, June 14. He’s been in the service station and towing business for 52 years but has no retirement plans. Berg says he’ll continue to answer towing calls for law enforcement agencies besides doing farming and vegetable gardening.

NEW ULM — Dick’s Auto Repair & towing Inc. owner Dick Berg sold his business equipment at auction June 14 but he has no plans to retire any time soon.

Berg, 72, has been in the repair and towing business for 52 years. He said he plans to continue towing vehicles to local law enforcement impound lots after being escorted by officers to the vehicles.

“Back in the 60s and 70s, I could go out on a service call at night and not worry about anything,” Berg said. “Now, you have to be careful about who’s in the vehicle. Cars now are very fragile too. They’re full of plastic. I won’t go out unless I’m with law enforcement. Years ago, if someone was drinking too much, I could tow their car to their residence. Not anymore.”

Berg said decades ago, when he was on a highway service call, truckers would stop and offer to help. Now, they spin your cap around and shave you as they go by,” Berg said.

Years ago, Berg said he towed vehicles in crashes to the Bee Line alignment shop where they were repaired. Now, he said most vehicles in serious crashes are towed to a salvage yard.

He grew up on a Milford Township farm with dairy cattle, chickens, pigs, corn and beans. As a sophomore at New Ulm Cathedral High School, Berg had his hip fused due to a congenital, dislocated hip. He had surgery to replace his hip socket recently.

In 1966, Berg began working at Glen’s Skelly. The business later sold Getty, Texaco, and more recently Shell Oil products.

His back went out in the early 70s. After getting an x-ray in Rochester, Berg said he was told there was a crack in a disc in his lower back.

“The doctor said he would sign my disability papers, but what did I do? I went back to work in 1974,” Berg said. “In 1996, I got my back fused because I split a vertebrae. They asked me when I got disability when I turned 62. I said ‘disability?’ I’d rather work than get disability.”

Berg said another doctor told him he’d never drive a straight stick (manual transmission) vehicle because of his back and hip ailments. (laughter).

Much of his career was spent in a tow truck on highways, tending to semis owned by local trucking firms. He went as far away as Illinois, Missouri and Nebraska, sometimes in serious snowstorms.

He married Joyce Hoffman of LaSalle in 1984. The couple moved to a new house just south of New Ulm on Highway 15.

Berg’s favorite vehicle that he owned was a 1970 Chevrolet Monte Carlo SS with a 454 cubic inch V8 engine.

“Everything now is so high tech. I’d rather work on older vehicles,” Dick said. “Newer cars are often oriented back to dealers. Small vehicle repair shops are disappearing. It’s happening with farm equipment, too. Things are getting so computerized.”

Dick said he enjoys doing farm work these days. He sold his service station building at 101 S. Broadway recently.

“Sitting in a tractor is relaxing to me,” Berg said.

“Ma Bell (he pointed to a cell phone) is going to kill more people than Christian Brothers (Brandy) ever dreamed of,” Berg said. “Inattentive driving is what it’s about now.”

Fritz Busch can be emailed at fbusch@nujournal.com.

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