Ferndale auto repair shop celebrates 80 years in business

willand tech auto staff chris atkinson - spike anderson - ron willand - trent mast - missing Eileen Winton 2017-11-22
Willands Tech Auto staff (L to R) Chris Atkinson, Spike Anderson, Ron Willand, Trent Mast - missing Eileen Winton (November 22, 2017). Photo: Discover Ferndale
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Back in the 1930s, Olve Willand was operating an auto repair shop in Tioga, North Dakota but the bitter winters were tiresome. His brother ultimately convinced Olve to join him in Ferndale, where the winters were not so bitter.

In 1937, Olve opened the Ferndale shop that has been serving Ferndale area neighbors’ auto repair and servicing needs ever since.

Olve’s son, Ron Willand, currently runs Willands Tech-Auto Repair on Vista Drive and is assisted by his daughter, Eileen Winton.

When asked what has changed the most over the years, Willand quickly answered, “Computerization.” “Everything in cars today is controlled by computers,” Willand explained. “It used to be we could simply look at an engine and tell the customer what was wrong or needed fixing. Now it is not that easy.”

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Willand, when asked how they have been able to stay in business so long, listed off, “Customer service. Be honest. Do what you say you are going to do.” He added, “You have got to know what you are working on and that means constant education [and training] for us.”

willands tech auto repair building and ron willands 1988 gmc pickup 2017-11-22
Willands Tech-Auto Repair building with Ron Willand’s 1988 GMC pickup parked outside (November 22, 2017). Photo: Discover Ferndale

Ron’s pickup (seen in the photo above) is nearly as iconic as the business and serves as a rolling testament to Willand’s ability to take of care of and maintain a vehicle. He bought the red 1988 GMC half-ton pickup from the Diehl car lot in Bellingham in 1988 and has maintained it in like-new condition ever since. He said it recently took him and his wife to eastern Washington with ease and averaged around 17mpg.

Ron has also donated time and materials to create and maintaining a garden on the right-of-way created when the 2nd Avenue railroad crossing was closed. He can often be seen  working on it for the community’s benefit.


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