Central Diesel celebrates 50 years of business in Mobridge

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Central Diesel founder Ron Unterseher has been conducting business the small town way for 50 years. The Glad Valley native founded Central Diesel on the east side of Mobridge in 1962 and he credits his longevity to fairness, customer service and community pride.

In his decades working with diesel engines he’s seen many changes. Trucking routes were deregulated in the 1980s and complex licensing requirements have been introduced for drivers. Changes to the way repairs are made have been introduced too. Where Ron once diagnosed sputtering engines by ear, computers have been introduced in diesel shops to run intricate diagnostics. But, said Ron, some things can never be replaced if a business wants to keep its doors open for very long.

“Everybody that comes into our shop, we know,” said Unterseher. “And if you’re going to run a business here unfairly, you’re not going to be in business very long.”

Thursday, July 26, Ron celebrates his official retirement after five decades of work in the diesel truck repair and parts industry.

Ron’s father was a trucker and as early as 12, he put Ron behind the wheel of a big rig. During the summer and after school, Ron would make deliveries of wheat and grain to elevators around Mobridge. At the time, there were no drivers licenses and all a driver needed to haul a load was a permit.

“I remember the first time I made a delivery, my dad asked me If I could do it and I said I thought I could,” said Ron. “I pulled up to the elevator and all the guys were laughing and pointing because I could barely see over the wheel.”

Diesel trucks were first introduced to Mobridge in the 1950s. He bought his first diesel truck in 1959, a Freightliner, but found that reliable parts and repairs for the trucks were difficult to find around Mobridge. He went to the Cummins school at the manufacturers factory in Indiana and became a certified Cummins mechanic and dealer. Ron graduated in a class of eight and, in 1962, opened Central Diesel to support the growing demand for diesel truck services.

Central Diesel handles engines from all around the area. Everything from farm trucks to municipal repair vehicles and agricultural equipment comes through the shop. With the energy boom in North Dakota, Central Diesel has been repairing vehicles off the oil fields. Recently, the business was handed down to his son John, who said he is dedicated to maintaining the legacy of his father.

“My father works harder than anybody I’ve ever known,” said John. “As a kid I remember he was always at work and I’ve tried to learn as much as I can from him and his work ethic.”

Thursday, July 19, Central Deisel is hosting an open house from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. in honor of Ron’s retirement and 80th birthday.

-Stuart Hughes-


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