Even after turning 80, John Plowman continues to dabble in the automotive repair business.
John Plowman still can be found occasionally at Plowman’s Collision even though he retired shortly after his 80th birthday in 2019.
John started the business in 1970, and it has become a family business through the years.
Always fixing something growing up, he began doing auto repair when he was 18. He worked at Chabot Collision and then at Washburn Ford before opening his own shop, then called John Plowman’s Collision at the corner of Campbell Street and Washington Avenue where his wife, Bonnie, did the bookkeeping.
According to John, the first ten years of the business were the hardest when they were just starting out. But to him, the best part of those times was watching the business and customer base grow. Starting with nothing, John says the amount of jobs that go through the shop and the number of customers that come in is nothing short of amazing.
“If you do a good job your reputation will speak for itself,” he said. “That’s the kind of reputation we carry.”
John’s eldest son, Steve also grew up in the shop. He officially began working for his dad through the high school co-op program. Steve said, “I’m proud of him. I’m proud he’s my dad. I’ve learned a lot from him,” Steve said.
In 1989, Steve and his wife, Ruth, took over the business and moved it to its present location at 3146 U.S.-23 South in Alpena. Soon their family began to grow with the addition of son Brian and daughter Megan. Just like his father, son Brian grew up around the shop. Brian began to learn the trade hands on but also attended college for even more knowledge about the auto body repair business.
And the tradition continues. Brian went from working in the shop to working in the office where he is learning all the ins outs of the business as he will one day take over for his dad. John said he’s happy to see his grandson “stepping up to the plate.”
Till then, its business as usual in the ever growing and ever-changing Plowman’s Collision.