Being named Employee of the Month for October by the Little Falls Area Chamber of Commerce came as a total surprise to Mike Barnes, foreman and body technician at the Hilmerson Collision Center in Little Falls.
âI certainly didn’t see that one coming,â he said.
Barnes has worked at the Hilmerson Collision Center since owners Jeff and Michelle Waldvogel bought the business in June 2002. He was also employed by the previous owner.
âMike brings years of expertise to our facility. He is honest, reliable and hardworking. Making him a valuable employee, we can always count on Mike, âsaid the Waldvogels.
The anonymous nomination that was submitted to the Little Falls Area Chamber of Commerce also demonstrates Barnes’ expertise and dedication to the client as well as the company.
âHe’s friendly and knowledgeable with customers when giving estimates, always doing what’s best for customers and the store. He wears a variety of hats at the Hilmerson Collision Center and can be relied on when the owners are out of town. He is certainly worthy of this recognition, âthe appointment said.
Growing up in Little Falls, Barnes said he never really thought about what he wanted to do when he grew up. In many ways, it almost seems like the art of vehicle repair chose it.
Barnes said that since growing up next to a body shop, he has learned a lot from the workers there. At first when he started mowing the grass as a way to earn extra money, and over time he also started fixing things in the store. It was also a way of earning money to buy things, at the beginning; a bicycle, and later as I get older, a car.
As a foreman and bodybuilder, Barnes does a little bit of everything, wherever help is needed, including administrative help. Over the years, he has also seen the damage that different collisions can cause to vehicles. Collisions with deer are quite common, he said.
He once remembers working on a car that hit a horse on the road.
Barnes said over the years he started working on more vehicles involved in more difficult collisions. Although it is more difficult to fix it, it doesn’t bother him. In fact, he is looking forward to the challenge, because it also makes his job more interesting. Much of it involves working on the frame and then painting it.
Regarding his job, Barnes said he takes pride in doing a great job. Nothing pleases him more than seeing a customer satisfied with the job done. Because of his dedication to his work and to customers, many customers have returned to take care of their vehicles the next time they are involved in a collision.
Although he has taken various training courses, Barnes said he has learned a lot on the job.
When not working, Barnes enjoys spending time with his wife Theresa, their children Justin and Jerem and their 9-year-old granddaughter Adelyn. He also enjoys bow hunting, elk hunting, fishing and the outdoors.
As Employee of the Month, Barnes received gift certificates for Heartland Tire, McDonald’s, Melgram Jewelers, Papa Murphy’s, Reality Roasters, Subway, and Vacuum Outlet and Service Center.
âI want to thank whoever nominated me for House Employee of the Month for October. I appreciated all the gift certificates from the sponsors; it really made my day. I really enjoy working at the Hilmerson Collision Center and I am thankful that Mike, Michelle and the whole team make the job fun every day, âsaid Barnes.