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Couple open new auto service center in Roberts

John and Mandie DeVries recently opened Automan Auto Repair in Roberts (117 W. Main St.) after extensively renovating the building, which used to house John’s Auto Repair. (Photo by Sarah Young)1 / 2
The renovations on the Automan building at 117 W. Main St. in Roberts began at the end of last August and wrapped up a couple of weeks ago. The wooden portion of the structure was bulldozed and replaced, and the entire outside was stuccoed. (Photo by Sarah Young)2 / 2

Looking for a reliable, honest, not to mention affordable, mechanic can be stressful, and John and Mandie DeVries realize that. The newlywed couple is hoping you’ll give their brand new hometown auto service center in downtown Roberts a call.

Automan Auto Repair opened for business in its new location (117 W. Main St.) a couple of weeks ago after extensive renovations to the building were completed. Now all that’s left to do are a few odds and ends, like install more hoists and finish the reception space, Mandie said.

The DeVrieses bought the building from John and Roxanne Sutliff of Star Prairie, who used to own and operate John’s Auto Repair from that location. Renovations began last August with bulldozing the 1930s-era wooden portion of the structure (a garage stall and office area). The 1950s brick portion of the building remained, but was stuccoed along with the new part for a cohesive look.

The new addition includes two garage stalls, a restroom and an office/reception area. A vintage 1954 Pegasus sign greets customers on Main Street.

Automan was operated out of the couple’s Town of Warren home (1132 60th Ave.) for about one year before making the move into the village.

“We said, let’s give it a whirl and see how it goes,” Mandie said of opening Automan first at their home. “It went really well considering we’re on a dead end street. There was a lot of word of mouth advertising.”

John, who worked for his father’s auto repair shop in Center City, Minn., “pretty much since I could walk,” picked the name Automan because it’s easy to remember and listed under A in the phone book. He and Mandie are thrilled with their new location, which offers more visibility and more walk-in traffic. John and Mandie will handle the business themselves for now, but may consider hiring part-time help in the spring.

John is proud of his honest work ethic and always shows people their parts to prove installation of the new ones.

“I won’t try to upsell everything and mint out a 1996 Cavalier when someone just wants to get it to work without dying,” John said. “I won’t tell them to fix it if repairs are more than the vehicle’s worth.”

Mandie praised her husband for his thoroughness and ability to salvage anything he can. The couple said many of Sutliff’s former customers have been stopping in to introduce themselves and schedule services, along with customers John had at the Town of Warren location

“We will work hard to keep them,” John said of new and old customers.

The couple hopes to collaborate with David and Melody Hoffman, the new owners of Roberts Neighborhood Foods, for a sort of Main Street block party grand opening celebration in the spring. For now, customers should take advantage of the by appointment only $19.99 oil change special in honor of the new location.

Business hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. To schedule an appointment, call 715-304-8762 or email

Sarah Nigbor

Sarah J. Nigbor serves as a regional editor for RiverTown Multimedia, a position she began in April 2017. She joined RiverTown Multimedia in October 2013 as a news reporter for the New Richmond News, before being appointed editor of the Pierce County Herald in Febraury 2015. She graduated from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Spanish and French in 2001. She completed a minor in journalism in 2004. 

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