End of an era for Emo dealership

After more than 40 years of keeping district motorists on the road, Fred Klug has decided to hang up his lug wrench.
Last week, Klug and his wife, Judy, who have been providing cars and service from their familiar location in Emo since 1964, officially handed over the keys to Emo Sales and Service to its new owner, Roy Avis of Fort Frances, and in so doing marked the end of an era.
Avis owns West End Motors, but Klug said apart from his presence in the office, customers will not notice any real difference.
That also is true for the employees—some of whom have been with Emo Sales and Service for more than 20 years. For Klug, that was an essential point in the deal.
“They’re all going to be staying on,” he remarked Friday. “The people I have here are all number-one. They’ve been very loyal to us, so we’re taking care of them.”
Klug described the sale as a “friendly takeover” by Avis, who he considers a friend even though he has been a competitor over the years.
“For him [Avis], it’s a clever move because we were competitors to begin with,” he reasoned.
Klug noted the transaction only affects the dealership. He is keeping Emo Sales, as well as his other business—Big Timber Ltd.
Klug admitted the decision to get out of the business was not an easy one. However, a serious health scare three years ago ultimately was the deciding factor.
In 2001, while working in the field at his beef farm, Klug was struck down by a brain aneurysm. These occur when a blood vessel ruptures in the brain, are often fatal, and usually strike without any warning.
“It was like somebody had hit me over the head with a club,” Klug recalled.
Miraculously, he was able to drag himself to the house and get to the hospital in time to prevent the bleeding in his head from doing any significant damage.
Today, at 64, Klug is healthy again, although he still is plagued by some long-term memory issues. Nonetheless, he considered it a wake-up call and began to think seriously about his future.
With his family business and life-long customers in secure hands, Klug said he intends to take some time off and travel. One stop on his itinerary is his native Austria, from which he emigrated in 1953.
Will he miss the everyday activities of Emo Sales and Service? Well, yes and no.
“You bet. After 40 years, you’re bound to miss it,” Klug remarked, adding he will particularly miss his regular customers—some of whom have been coming back to him year after year.
However, he won’t miss the red tape that has become increasingly a part of running a small business.
“The government end of it, I’m not going to miss at all,” he stressed.
Klug said things have changed considerably over the years and he wonders how people nowadays can even make a go at it—considering the amount of regulation and taxation that exists today.
“To start a dealership from scratch like I did is simply not doable anymore,” he argued.
But Klug has confidence in the new ownership and the viability of the business he started all those years ago.
“I’m really hoping people in the area will continue to patronize the new owners,” he remarked.