Prairie Profiles, Jim OByrne: Just doing it

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, September 19, 2006

By Ed Shannon, staff writer

We&8217;ve come a long way in two years,&8221; is how Jim O&8217;Byrne explains the extent of the business he now operates with his wife, Dede. In fact, the first letters of their names are used to identify this distinctive business as JD-Autobody.

&8220;I started JD-Autobody in August 2004 but have been doing this for many years. I am doing a few different things like autobody, classic restoration, spray-in bedliners, snowplowing, truck and car accessories, detailing and vinyl graphics and lettering,&8221; is the way he describes in part the activities on the firm&8217;s Web site &8212;

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The location of this business is west of Albert Lea and north of Armstrong on 700th Avenue (County Road 14). At this site is the family&8217;s home, several outbuildings and two structures devoted to operations of JD-Autobody.

The main shop has room for an office and space for working on five vehicles. This large building has a paint booth and what O&8217;Byrne describes as a room to spray bedliners on vehicles. He explained that the shop has a concrete floor with a special feature. Under this floor are plastic pipes where a liquid containing antifreeze is used in conjunction with a new furnace to furnish the place with radiant heat, especially during the winter months. Not far away is a special building used for detail work on vehicles.

&8220;We do a lot of work for dealers in Austin, Albert Lea, Owatonna and Hayward,&8221; he said.

One of the services available at this firm is lettering on semis, stockcars, pickups and other vehicles.

&8220;Lettering on boats is something else we do,&8221; he added.

JD-Autobody has also made signs for area business firms. All this initial work is done with computers and Dede says there are 80 colors of vinyl material to chose from, plus a source to get other colors as needed the next day.

&8220;There&8217;s always something going on and we have a big variety of jobs to do. You sure don&8217;t get bored,&8221; she commented. And besides working with her husband, maintains the family&8217;s home and helping to raise four children, she also works part-time for United Parcel Service.

The couple said they do get some occasional help with detailing work and that their busiest seasons are spring and fall.

Hours at JD-Autobody are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekdays and weekends are for &8221;catch-up time.&8221;

Besides doing body repairs to vehicles and specialized customizing, the firm sprays pickup boxes and even vehicle exteriors with an epoxy coating available in many colors and known under the trade name of Superliner. This coating is intended to provide protection from adverse weather conditions, helps to prevent damages, has a sound deadening effect for cargo, and has what&8217;s described as super-strength.

Added accessories sold by this rural Albert Lea firm are pickup toppers, snowplows, window graphics, and access covers for pickup beds.

The window graphics are designed to provide an advertising message on the back windows of pickups and still provided clear rear vision from the interior for the driver.

&8220;Our knowledge comes from just doing it. … Sometimes what we do just takes time, like working on classic cars&8221; he explained.

JD- Autobody is a member of the Albert Lea-Freeborn County Chamber of Commerce and the National Federation of Independent Businesses.

Jim and Dede O&8217;Byrne are 1986 graduates of Albert Lea High School and have four children. Courtney, 18, is a senior, Sanya, 16, is a junior, and Brooke and Tony, both 15, are freshmen. All four attend Alden-Conger High School.

With the eventual advent of winter, the O&8217;Byrnes will be using their two pickups for still another service provided by JD-Autobody. They&8217;ll be plowing snow for area businesses and residences.