It’s been 25 years since Jeff’s Muffler got its start as a one-man exhaust repair shop in Detroit Lakes, and the business has really shifted into a higher gear since then.
The shop has grown in size and scope, with a move to a bigger garage in 2009 and, after that, the addition of owner Jeff Schlauderaff’s two sons, along with another full-time mechanic. Those added hands -- and the expertise they’ve brought -- have allowed the shop to branch out into full-service auto repair.
To reflect that growth, the business name itself has grown -- from the short and sweet Jeff’s Muffler of 1986 to today’s more comprehensive Jeff’s Muffler and Auto Repair.
Customers still see Schlauderaff’s familiar face when they walk into the shop at 812 8th Street SE, and he’s still the go-to guy for all things muffler-related. The company’s unofficial motto, “If your muffler is shotty, go see Schlaudy (the muffler specialist),” still rings true.
The two younger “Schlaudys” that have been brought on board, Eric and Jeff Jr., focus more on other types of automotive and trailer maintenance and repair services. They’re joined by another young mechanic, Ethan Ladwig.
“I pretty much do all the muffler work yet,” said the elder Schlauderaff. “The boys do all the mechanic work.”
While he brought his sons into the business in hopes they’ll take it over one day, Schlauderaff has no plans to retire anytime soon. He’s been doing muffler work for over 40 years and enjoys what he does.
“I’ve always liked it,” he said. “Every vehicle’s a little bit different, so it’s not the same thing every day.”
Known for his work on hot rods, he said that’s one of his favorite things about the job: “That’s fun. I’ve done a lot of them over the years.”
Schlauderaff and his sons all said they work well together, and they each bring their own unique talents and experiences to the business.
Eric, who’s been there for several years now, said he enjoys the customer service side of things and is good with computers. He had previously worked as a mechanic at other automotive repair shops in town, including Chaney’s.
Jeff Jr. is only about a month into his employment at Jeff’s Muffler and is still learning the ropes, but his brother and father say he’s picking things up fast. He had been a farm mechanic in Callaway for the past 17 years.
And Jeff Sr., of course, is "the muffler specialist" who started it all.
“I get along with them,” Schlauderaff said of his boys. “It’s been really good.”
Schlauderaff’s wife, Linda, has been an active member of the Jeff’s Muffler team at different times in the past, too, helping with the office work. These days, though, she keeps busy enough with her own home daycare business. The couple also has two grown daughters, who work outside of the family businesses.
Jeff’s Muffler offers a wide range of automotive maintenance and repair services, from oil changes to air conditioning, computer diagnosis to complete engine overhauls. It also offers trailer repair for flat beds, refrigerated trailers, auto racks and other trailer configurations. Last fall, the business began selling SnowEx snow plows, which the Schlauderaffs said is going well.
On top of that, Jeff’s Muffler is still the place to go for installation of custom exhaust systems and exhaust repairs, rebuilds and other exhaust services on cars and trucks of all kinds and all ages.
“Our success is based on the good old-fashioned service we’ve been providing customers in the Detroit Lakes area for over 38 years,” states jeffsmufflerandautorepair.com. “Treating clients right makes them patrons for life. It’s just the right way to do business, and that’s been our goal all along.”
The shop is open from 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. For more information, call 218-846-9318 or visit the website.