BROKEN BOW—A tour of the town with Nebraska Lieutenant Governor Mike Foley on Thursday, August 20 featured multiple GROW Award and Ribbon Cutting celebrations for local businesses hosted by the Broken Bow Chamber of Commerce.
First on the agenda was a GROW Award at Wenquist, Inc., a Napa Auto Parts store and family owned business in Broken Bow since 1925.
A.J. Wenquist & Sons was the original store in the downtown square and sold bicycle parts, automotive accessories, and tires. The current building located at 450 East South E Street was purchased in 1953 and has since undergone several expansions and most recently a 33% inventory expansion which earned the business a Chamber GROW Award.
Current owners Dan and Amy Wenquist are part of the fourth generation of Wenquists to serve central Nebraska with a broad selection of auto, truck, diesel, and tractor parts and supplies, tools and equipment, as well as custom hydraulic hoses. “We do it all!” Dan Wenquist told KCNI/KBBN.
In celebration of the store’s 95th anniversary, the Wenquist family held an open house with tours and food for the public on August 11.
“It’s exciting to be where we’re at and be done with the whole project and be able to offer the expansion—the extra parts, the extra inventory that we have—to our customers. Ninety-five years is obviously a huge milestone for the company and it’s exciting to still be here and the boys be with us this summer,” Amy Wenquist said.
To help celebrate and present the GROW award along with BB Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Deb Kennedy, Lt. Governor Mike Foley congratulated the Wenquists on running a successful business for so many years.
“There’s lots of things that make it complicated to run a business but these folks have done it successfully for many, many years. And you do that because you work hard and you’re smart. This is the first time we’ve ever met but I’m sure you’re really smart! And I know you work hard because that’s the way it is in this country, if you work hard and use the gifts God has given you,” Lt. Gov. Foley said.
Deb Kennedy thanked the family for investing in the community and Dan Wenquist said he appreciates the employees who help make it possible to serve customers in Broken Bow, Arcadia, Sargent, Ansley, Oconto, Callaway, Arnold, Thedford, down Highway 2 and anywhere in between.
“Probably the biggest thing is our customers, great customers, and then our great help. Our employees have been perfect through this. They’re actually probably the biggest piece of it! Without them we wouldn’t be here,” Dan Wenquist said.
Dan and Amy purchased the store from Stan and Judy Wenquist (Dan’s parents) in 2007 and have been married for 25 years—after having met each other in the store while Dan was working! The couple has two sons, Alex and Ethan who are both in high school in Broken Bow.
Below is a history of the business courtesy of Wenquist, Inc.
1925: A.J. & Rosie (Dan’s great Grandpa and Grandma), Evald (Dan’s Grandpa), Morris, and Selden open a parts store on the square called “A.J. Wenquist & Sons,” which sold bicycle parts, automotive accessories, and tires. It was located in the Computers Plus Building next door to Prairie Eye Care in downtown Broken Bow.
1940: Became affiliated with NAPA as their main supplier
1953: Purchased the current building and operated from two locations—downtown and East Highway 2. The East Highway 2 building was named “Wenquist’s Auto Supply”
1957: Rosie sold her shares of the business to Evald, Morris, and Selden for “$1.00 and Love and Affection”
1960: Evald, Morris, and Selden incorporate the business naming it “Wenquist, Inc.”
1965: Added a 65’ x 40’ addition on the south of the East Highway 2 building. This addition can be found in the middle of the current building.
1967: Closed the downtown location due to Evald’s illness/stroke
1968: Morris sold his shares of the business to his son, Clayton
1975: 50th Anniversary of the business and Evald passed away in June
1980: Selden sold his shares to Stan and Judy (Dan’s parents) and Stan’s mother Inna (Evald’s wife) gifted her shares to them
1988: Clayton sold his shares to Stan and Judy, making them the sole owners
2007: Stan and Judy sold the business to Dan and Amy
2011: Another 65’ x 40’ addition was added to the south of the building and was “skinned” with metal
2017: Interior remodel of the store front and 125’ x 20’ addition to the east of the building for the office and space for the machine shop
2020: Inventory upgrade, bringing the current inventory to nearly $1.5 million
“Thank you for your business and for celebrating our 95th Anniversary with us!”