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AUSTIN EDITION - NOTEBOOK Parts store adds link in Albert Lea

Parts store adds link in Albert Lea

A regional auto parts dealer's part of the action in southeastern Minnesota got a little bigger last week.

Tom Hovland Enterprises Inc. of Mason City, Iowa, picked up the Napa Auto Parts store at 1710 E. Main St., Albert Lea, on April 1.

The store has about 10 employees and is managed by Aaron Bjorklund, who has worked there for eight years.

Hovland owns 11 Napa stores in Minnesota, Iowa and Wisconsin, including the Austin store at 108 Second Ave. N.W. The company has more than 100 employees.

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"We now have a pretty good footprint," said Tom Hovland.

Acquiring the Albert Lea store made logistic sense, he said. Now parts can be shuttled directly from Mason City to Albert Lea and Austin.

The deal hits another of Hovland's goals.

"We have decided the smaller markets are becoming harder to support," he said. "We are trying to get into more major markets."

With two stores in Minnesota, the company will look at the state for future stores, he said.

Growth is important in the competitive automotive business.

"Having one store would be hard, it takes volume to make this work," Hovland said.

While having more stores in larger markets is important, it is the experience of the staff that makes the business work.

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"Everybody has parts, it is the people that make the difference," he said.

Kiger's Notebook appears on Mondays and Fridays in the Austin Post-Bulletin. Send questions or business news tips to jkiger@postbulletin.com or call 434-7350. Look for updates on his Web log at www.postbulletin.com.

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