Published On: Thu, May 22nd, 2014

Garber closes the doors at his NAPA store

LAUREL — The building that had housed the NAPA Store in downtown Laurel is standing empty.

Logan Garber has closed the doors after owning and running the auto parts business for close to 26 years.

It was a difficult decision for Garber to make.

“It was hard to see the store close. With the dwindling customer base and increasing expenses you just reach a point where there is nothing else to do. We would have also had to get a new computer system, which would have been costly. A lot of the smaller farmers that used to buy from us have sold out or leased their land out,” Garber said. “I bought the business in the fall of 1989. It was going on 26 years when I sold the inventory and closed the store.”

Garber and his wife Evonne have lived in Laurel since 1989 when they purchased the store.

Northeast Nebraska had been a new location for the couple.

Garber had grown up on a farm in Windsor, Mo., area.

He had lived at several locations during the 33 years he had worked with Ralston Purina Company.

Garber had purchased and operated a large bar in Jackson, Mo., for four years before the business opportunity came up in Laurel.

“My wife’s mother was living in Norfolk at the time. We looked at several other stores, and then ended up moving to Laurel,” Garber said. “Our kids were all grown by the time we moved here. The closest one lives in Uehling. Our other kids are scattered from Denver, Colo., to locations in Missouri.”

Garber became involved in city government after making the move to Laurel.

He served as the city mayor for four years and also sat on the Planning Commission for four years and is currently a member of the Laurel City Council.

“Sometimes it can be hard for a business person to serve in city government, but I never had any problems,” Garber said. “You just have to approach it with the right attitude and have good ideas.”

Garber is proud of the advancements the City of Laurel has made over the last several years.

The land acquisition for the original part of the Industrial Park has proven to be a success. “We had reached a point where there was no more space available. Laurel Bio, Agrex, and several other businesses have now located in the Industrial Park,” Garber said.

Laurel Bio-Composite converts a corn by-product from the ethanol process into a product that is used to raise the “green” content of plastic products.

Laurel Agrex, which is still under construction, will be capable of handling 1.5 million bushels of grain storage.

“You can go almost anywhere in the state and when you mention Laurel people know who you are talking about,” Garber said. “Governor Dave Heineman spoke at the ribbon cutting for Laurel Bio-Composite. The Governor said Laurel was the only town in Nebraska that he had been to twice in 90 days and that included Omaha and Lincoln.”

Safe Routes for School Kids included a new stretch of sidewalk and a new pedestrian bridge that was constructed with close to $90,000 in funds from the Safe Routes Nebraska Program.