Brandon (service manager) was recently interviewed on the shops thoughts about a recent “suspicious” car fire that happened on the CSU campus.
Gilsdorf Garage celebrates 60 years
Gilsdorf Garage is celebrating 60 Years of serving the automotive needs of Fort Collins.
“We can hardly believe it ourselves,” said Mark Johnson, who now owns the garage with his wife, Doreen. The Johnsons have provided the following history of the well-known Fort Collins establishment.
On November 1, 1950, Ed Gilsdorf opened his one-bay shop at the southwest corner of Shields and Mulberry, west of Watty and and Son’s Sinclair station. As business increased, Ed added onto the old building until 1964, when a new facility was built. This building, in turn, received a 2,000-square-foot addition in the early ‘90s.
Ed’s great-great-grandfather came to America from Germany in 1849 and settled in Platte County, Nebraska. Ed was born in Platte County, found his way to southern California as a young man and worked for Lockheed during WWII, building fighter planes. When Ed took it upon himself to rework a faulty aircraft wing jig on his own time to reduce waste, he was promoted to manager and put in charge of a crew of “Rosie the Riveters.”
According to John Gilsdorf, Ed’s son, Lockheed wouldn’t let Ed be drafted, as he was a valued employee doing a great job. That speaks for his quality craftsmanship, which still exists at Gilsdorf Garage today. Ed moved to Colorado in 1946 with his wife Mary, whom he met while in California.
In 1974 Ed retired, built his third motor home and moved to Sequim, Washinton. He sold the family business to his son John, who started working in the shop in 1970, and Colby Van Cleave. Colby retired in 1982, and John bought out his half interest. Under John’s careful management, the business grew and prospered, adhering to the quality principles of its founder Ed.
John ran the shop successfully for 29 years, earning all of his ASE certifications along with an AAM certificate as an automotive shop manager. He retired in the fall of 2003 and moved to Alamogordo, New Mexico. John still tinkers with his vintage cars, owns and manages residential properties, and hits the road on his motorcycle in good weather.
Current owners Mark and Doreen Johnson have carried on the Gilsdorf Garage tradition of providing quality service at affordable prices. Mark is originally from southern California and worked in transportation management at a major railroad for 25 years. Half of that time was spent in Detroit working on transportation solutions for the Big Three automakers. In 1991, Mark came to Denver to become the national manager of Automotive Customer Service for the railroad.
Mark’s hobby interest has always been automotive. He owned his first car at 13, a Model A Ford, and has owned many vehicles since. When not working on the railroad, he could be found in his garage spending many hours on automotive projects.
A graduate of the University of Southern California with majors in accounting and marketing, Mark brings valuable business acumen to Gilsdorf Garage, always looking to improve the quality and service provided to their valued customers. When performing final quality-control checks on customers’ cars, Mark said, “I always look at the quality of our service from the customer’s perspective. I know if I’m happy with the job, our customers will be, too.”
Gilsdorf Garage is one of the few shops in Fort Collins that are AAA approved and carry a BBB rating of A+. Gilsdorf is also a Napa Auto Care Center, providing a 12-month/12,000-mile warranty on repairs.
Ed would be proud of how well John and Mark have carried on the quality craftsmanship tradition at Gilsdorf Garage.
“We hope that you have enjoyed reading about the story behind a local Fort Collins tradition,” said Mark. “If you are looking for a shop to handle all of your automotive needs, please stop by and get acquainted. You will be treated in a friendly and courteous manner, and your vehicle will be serviced by some of the best techs in town.”
Gilsdorf Garage can be reached at 970-482-8684.