Straight Lines

Marty Anfinson has not strayed far from Sioux Falls in his life. Born in Sioux Falls, Marty moved to Garretson in his kindergarten year. Today Marty and his wife Jodi own Straightlines Custom Restorations, Inc., a full up restoration and service shop in Tea. “My dad, my uncle and my grandfather got me interested in the restoration business,” remembers Marty. “They always drove Fords. They had a 1923 Ford they were working on in the garage but we could never go in there and play with it. They also had some old Ford pickups out back. It was fun to pretend you were driving and fixing them and it is what got me excited about the business. We played with those trucks all the time. My grandmother would always try to get us out of there because she was afraid we would get hurt.”

“The whole time I was growing up my dad, Rick Anfinson, had older vehicles (always Fords) and I helped him work on them. My Uncle Rolly also had lots of old cars around. I loved to help him in the shop. One night we were coming home from Madison in a ’77 Thunderbird and the engine went out. Once we got it home we swapped out the engine and mom continued to drive it. It seems like we were always working on it. That Thunderbird ended up to be my first car.”

“As a kid, I spent a lot of time at Split Rock Park. It was about a mile away and I would ride my bike there. My golden lab, Slack, would go fishing with me all the time, I had a great childhood. I always loved to fish and hunt. My grandparents were from the Hayti and Bryant areas so we would always go up there to hunt ducks, geese and deer. Today, Jodi and I really enjoy hunting and fishing together. It is a great way for us to relax and spend time together.”

“As I got older, my enthusiasm for hunting and fishing didn’t wane as my passion for cars increased. A classmate of mine had a ’79 Fairmont 4-door. That car would go 140 mph. We were racing one time east of Garretson and he pulled away from my dad’s ‘77 Ranchero at 120 MPH. My dad never heard about that race, sorry Dad. Shannon Nordstrom was a couple years ahead of me in school. When Nordstrom’s built their installation shop I spent a lot of time there. It was about six blocks from my house. I learned a lot about cars hanging around there.”

“Over the years I’ve had many jobs. When I was in high school I worked at Nordstrom’s, Fryn’ Pan and the Blue Beacon Truck Wash on North Cliff. Right after I got out of high school I had a new baby and needed to make a little more money. I went to work for SMC painting tractor parts. I learned how to paint from my dad. Dad would paint and restore vehicles in my grandma’s garage and I would watch. After SMC I went to work for Central States Fire Apparatus. I worked there for a couple of years. At night I would help Randy Haber of Genesis Autoworks restore cars. Randy really got me in to the “old stuff”, I always had the love for these cars but he really brought it out of me. Randy brought in a ’67 Mustang that we worked on and eventually he sold it unfinished. Ironically, I finished it for the same customer ten years later. I then went to work for Peterbuilt in the body shop. When I went to work at Macco, Dave Linton, who worked there at the time, recognized my last name as he knew my family well. He said, ‘you grew up with a steering wheel in one hand and a wrench in the other.’ I learned a lot at Maaco, the owner taught me a lot about managing people. I had as many as 12 employees answering to me at Maaco. With Dave and Norvo’s direction, I helped paint 27,000 cars while I was there-10, 000 of them I painted myself. I worked there from ’96 to 2002. I then went to work for Rick Ahler at Ahler’s Body Shop. We did a lot of restoration work including working on hot rods. I remember one particular restoration we did; a ’57 Chevy long box pickup. The truck was built for a local contractor’s son, who was going to college in Palm Springs. They were driving the truck out there and they had some mechanical problems on the way and took it to a hot rod shop in Las Vegas. The guy at the shop asked, ‘who built this?’ and they said a couple guys up in South Dakota. He said ‘they must really know what they are doing, they did a great job.’ The car placed second in a car show at Palm Springs.”

“After Ahler’s I went to work for Midwest Rail painting train cars. My dad worked for the railroad for 35 years and he said it would be a good job. I really didn’t want to do it at first but it was good experience. I worked there a little over a year. I learned a lot about welding while I was there. It was hard work and it got me in good shape. I left there and went to work for Ennis Lund. Ennis taught me a lot about the importance of details and the restoration business in general. I worked for Ennis for a year before starting my business in 2005.”

“I have had many jobs over the years and my experiences taught me how to treat employees and customers. The last six years have taught me how to run my own business. On the job training, I guess. I do not rule with an iron fist. I think I have earned the respect of my employees because they know I have done this before and know how to do what I am asking them to do.”

The business is located on the south side of Tea. “We are proud of our shop,” says Jodi. “We are proud to take our clients on a tour of the shop, it’s a beautiful facility. It gives them a sense of what we are capable of. At any time we have eight to twelve projects going at once. The shop tour helps us build rapport with the client. Once customers see the types of cars we have finished or are working on, it builds confidence in our ability to do their job. Before we start any new project we tell the customer that it is not our car, it is their car and we will restore it the way they want it restored. We will do as little or as much as they are comfortable with.”

“When we begin a restoration, we never know what is underneath the car until we get there,” says Marty. “We do not like surprises and neither do our customers but sometimes they happen. If we encounter concerns, we will always call them to discuss the options before proceeding. We encourage people to come down and see the progress of their restoration. We have an open door policy. We send out a bill every two weeks detailing the progress of the restoration so they stay in the loop. We also have an extensive record of photographs that we take, and use as a reference when we are rebuilding the car. We offer those pictures and a detailed description on the invoices to the customer upon completion of their vehicle. We also talk up front about how much creative freedom the client wants to give us. We had a client once that thought they bought a nice car but after we stripped it down, we found out it wasn’t. After the initial shock, we worked through the problem and earned their confidence and trust and built that particular car into a show car. The client’s original intent was for the car to be a driver but he was so happy with the work that he ‘shows his driver’ at many car shows. There are so many unknowns with a car. As long as it has paint on it you never know what is underneath it.”

Straightlines has many satisfied customers and one of them is Ken Spielman. According to Ken, “I was looking for a long time for someone who would paint my ’57 the color I wanted… jet black. I noticed an ad Marty ran and called him. After Marty looked over the car, we came to an agreement on price and a timeline for completion. Doing business with Marty and his company has been a good experience. I found Marty’s word is gold and so is their workmanship. He has a very talented staff. They are all very accommodating and pleasant to work with. I would strongly recommend Straightlines to anyone.”

Joe Floyd is another satisfied customer of Straightlines. “Joe is a customer of ours and has been for the past five years or so,” says Marty. “However, he is not a typical customer of ours. He has a great collection and is very particular. He knows what he wants but is willing to listen to other suggestions. I am proud to have earned his business because of his reputation as a talented car guy. He will ask me ‘Marty what do you want to do on this?’ He trusts my judgment. When I met Joe, he had just purchased a ’51 Ford from Barrett Jackson. I was renting a shop by his storage unit. He saw the Boss 514 ’70 Mustang Fastback I was working on at the time and said ‘if you can make my car look like that one, you can have the job.’ Joe works on most of his cars. What he can’t or doesn’t want to do, we do for him. I have spent a lot of time with him and I appreciate his friendship and his business counsel. It is nice to know that somebody like Joe trusts me like he does. He tells me to just be honest with him. Some people don’t like to hear some things but honesty is always the best policy.” According to Floyd, “We take our cars back to museum quality with a complete restoration. Everything is correct or as close to correct based on sound research, from the nuts and bolts to the paint and upholstery. The only cars we do not restore this way are the ones we will use for a road rally. I will usually make some alterations on these cars to accommodate the performance necessary for the rally. I remember when I first met Marty. I had just purchased a car at Barrett Jackson and was very proud of it. I noticed the work Marty did and asked him to fix the fenders of the car. When he started in on the job he called me and said that we have a problem. It turned out the car was a fraud. A longtime friend also looked over the car before I purchased it and we both thought it was a solid car. I was so disappointed and was ready to take the car to the junkyard. Marty asked if he could restore the car. I thought the car was not salvageable but he convinced me he could restore it. We tore the car down and started all over. It was a difficult car to restore because it was a unique car from Ford. Marty fabricated the pieces and took something that should have gone to the junkyard and made it a showroom car. What impresses me most with Marty is his dedication to do the research to do it right. He keeps in close touch with you on the progress and I feel very comfortable working with him. I feel his greatest asset is the last 10%. What I mean by that is he does not miss one detail necessary to bring the car to museum quality. Every nut and every bolt, down to the correct cigarette lighter, no detail is overlooked. This is the little stuff that most shops don’t take the time to do. I know my cars will be completed correctly. He is a painting master. I defy anyone to see a flaw in his paintwork. I have had cars done at other shops but end up bringing them to Marty to finish up. I know Marty build a lot of hot rods and muscle cars but my cars require correct period restoration. I trust Marty and his people to do it right the first time.”

“The restorations can take from a couple of months to a couple of years,” says Marty. “We have six employees besides myself and Jodi. All of our employees excel in one area or another but they are all capable of doing multiple jobs. Greg Pine has worked here for a year and a half. He is an encyclopedia of knowledge of cars. He came from the Black Hills where he and his dad had a car restoration business. Greg is a true craftsman. Metal fabrication is his specialty. I have known Zack since he was a junior in high school in Tea. One of the first cars he worked on was his mom’s ’68 Cougar (she drove it in high school), which he rescued out of the tree grove and drove as his first car. Zack Smith is a hard worker and a quick learner. Jerrod Dose does a lot of our bodywork and painting. Jerrod is really talented with a paint gun. He has been around cars his whole life too. Jerrod isn’t happy until he can see his reflection in his paint work. Byron Dose is an artist. Byron has completed many award winning builds. He welds, fabricates, and does custom paint jobs. Ryan Klaussen works part time for us. Ryan has a passion for old cars. Every once in a while he will show up with an artifact like the mint condition Dealer options catalog for my Vista Cruiser. He also does a little bit of everything for us. Nick Mercuriou is the newbie having been here less than a year. It is important that everybody knows how to do everything. However, everybody has the things they like to do and are maybe a little more talented at. All of these guys love cars. We have a lot of mutual respect. ”

“Currently we have a couple months wait. It is not uncommon for us to have a dozen projects going at one time so it is important to be organized. All of our people are very diligent about labeling parts. They really do a good job of not just chronicling the restorations, but about keep it organized so we don’t loose parts.”

Jodi is the office manager. One of Jodi’s responsibilities is to inspect the car before it leaves the shop. This gives them an eye that has not worked on the project directly. “We are passionate about the details”. Jodi also owns a landscape supply business in Tea (Midwest Landscape Supply, Inc.). Marty helps Jodi with her business in his spare time. “It is something different for me to help Jodi. A lot of her customers are small businesses just like ours. They are very talented and creative people. We can relate to them, being small business owners ourselves.”

“We have added on to the building over time as our work grows. We built a paint booth and added the painting area on the east side. Last spring we built another addition and we are already running out of room. We have been blessed to have strong growth of our business over the six years. I have always been busy ever since I opened my business. People have seen the work that we do and are deciding to do their business with us. We are happy to take on the projects. Our latest endeavor is the service and inspection department. This is something I like to do myself,” says Marty. “It gives me a chance to look over different cars and I learn something new every time I do.”

“We have good equipment but the real value in our business comes from the talent and vision of our employees. There are a lot of restoration shops in our area. We all do similar things but what I think sets us apart is our commitment to our customers and the finished product. I am proud of our people and our facilities. There are a lot of talented people in our industry.”

“We are a restoration shop. We work on all makes and models. I grew up with Fords but I love all cars. I appreciate every car. One of my favorites is a ’61 Chevy Impala convertible. I own a ’65 Olds Vista Cruiser Station Wagon, which I purchased three years ago. There are not many of them around. I have done work on the motor and drive train but it still has the original paint on it. I didn’t want to work on the appearance because it has a patina and the car is in great shape.”

Jodi and Marty both share a passion for hunting and fishing. “We go deer hunting together, what a blast.” says Marty. “We shot four deer last year including a four and a five pointer. We use a rifle because I do not have the patience for archery, which is surprising because I have to have patience in my business. It takes time to do what I do. I take my fishing seriously. Jodi is a little more laid back when it comes to fishing but somehow she always catches more fish. We got married this spring at our favorite fishing spot in Whitlock Bay by Gettysburg. The people at the bait shop call us the newlyweds. We even tie our own fishing lures. We make a good team.” Jodi adds, “I do the bookkeeping for the business and take care of things that Marty is too busy for. Last year we worked on the website and I helped Bob Beck at Flashes of Speed (who designed the website) get the site organized. We take lots of photos of our restorations. I help organize them and post them to the website so the customer can see their restoration in progress. Our customers really like this attention to detail. What we do is a craft and a form of artwork. We want to do it in our customer’s vision and every customer is different. We love what we do and we take the upmost pride in our work.”

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