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Attention to Detail

By Staff | Apr 7, 2008

Arlyn Klatt uses a power buffer to really bring out the shine on the cars he details for his customers.

Arlyn Klatt of Blue Earth runs a car detailing business out of his home at 212 West Third.

Klatt’s first job in life was also detailing cars. Well, actually that is not exactly true. It was his second job.

“When I was 14, an eighth grader, I took a job setting pins at Ankeny’s Bowling Alley,” Klatt said. “I got paid 10 cents per line.”

Klatt had not told his parents about the job, and one day his father walked by on his way to having coffee at the 220 Cafe. “He saw me inside and grabbed me and said that if I wanted a job so bad, he had one for me,” Klatt said.

His father owned Klatt Motors, located where the parking lot for First Bank Blue Earth is now. “He put me to work washing and waxing cars for the showroom,” Klatt said. From there he also started working in the shop at the dealership.

Then in 1983 his father died, and Arlyn took over the dealership. “I was the salesman and ran the front office,” he said. “I had to learn all the aspects of running the business.”

His father had started Klatt Motors in 1932. They had built a new building in 1967. “We had a four car showroom, and eight bays in the garage, and three hoists,” he said. “We sold Pontiacs and GMC vehicles.”

In 1988 Klatt sold out to L & M Motors in Blue Earth. “It was exactly 20 years ago this week (April 5) that I sold it,” he said. Klatt continued working for L & M, managing the dealership for them.

After they closed it he moved to their location at Fifth and Main and was a car salesman for L & M for 17 years.

“I worked there right up until the time it closed in September 2005,” Klatt said, “That was a sad day for me.” Klatt loved working there, and enjoyed the people he worked with, and the customers he sold cars to.

Looking for something to do, he decided to go back to cleaning up cars, a chore for some folks but something Klatt loves doing.

“Detailing just means that the car is cleaned inside and out, so it looks like it is ready for the showroom,” he said.

He spends an entire day cleaning one vehicle. After washing, the car gets a thorough wax and buffing. Everything is cleaned, from the tires and rims to every single thing inside as well. He shampoos all the carpet and cleans the seats too.

“I like to go over everything and make it as clean as new,” Klatt said. Sometimes that can take him even more than a day to get done. Klatt charges $75 per vehicle, although larger trucks or automobiles that need a lot of extra cleaning, are $100. Because he works in his unheated garage at home, Klatt only details cars from about April 1 to Nov. 1.

“Most people don’t want the cleaning done in the winter anyway,” he adds.

Klatt’s wife Karen has worked in the food services department at Blue Earth Area Middle School for 13 years. They have three children who are grown and live in Eau Claire, Wisc., Columbus, Neb., and St. Cloud.

Klatt is a Blue Earth native. “I bought my house in 1963 and we have lived in it since then,” Klatt said. He tore down the old garage a couple of years ago and built a new two stall garage. It is there that he does the detailing

“I enjoy it. I like to do a good job, “ he said. “And people like to have a totally clean car.”

So Arlyn Klatt is back to the same job he did at his father’s car dealership in 1953. After all, there isn’t too much call for bowling pin setters anymore.