Following in the footsteps of many of the country’s brightest entrepreneurs, Matt Ertman strives to become a true Renaissance man.
Ertman entered the world of commercial property by purchasing a single semi-truck. Now, nearly 20 years later, his fledgling trucking business has expanded to a full fleet.
Ertman did not stop there. Over the past few years, he’s applied his business acumen to new ventures that include a truck repair business and, more unexpectedly, a full bar in Mankato, which Ertman calls “a grown-up kid’s funhouse.”
How did he do it?
According to Ertman, the answer is simple.
“I started working and established myself from there”says.
Ertman established his first business, Ertman Trucking, in 2004. The business provides livestock services.
“We are about 100,000 pigs a week”Ertman’s predictions. “We have 24 trucks running on the road every day.”
Meanwhile, Ertman’s second job, Ertman Truck Repair, emerged as a natural extension of Ertman Trucking.
Already experienced in the trucking community, Ertman soon realized that there was a clear need for truck repair services in the area.
“Every time you took it halfway somewhere it seemed like a sleazy job”He remembers Ertman. “In 2015 I started hiring mechanics to work on my own stuff. In 2019, I made myself public.”
“I know that it is more difficult to get quality service in this region”it adds.
Ertman Truck Repair was originally located at 450th Street, near Highway 109. Ertman was not particularly happy with the location, six miles outside of Blue Earth and a significant deviation from the Interstate.
As such, Ertman decided to relocate. Ertman Truck Repair will now officially open on Monday, August 22 at its new location at 108 Faribault Drive in Golden Spike Business Park.
Ertman is excited about the business opportunities the new spot will bring – just a short ride from I-90.
“Currently no service center along the I-90 corridor”Ertman’s notes. “We need a full shop to rebuild transmissions, differentials and different things like that.”
Ertman Truck Repair specializes in Cummins Diesel Engines and offers full rebuilds of any engine as well as transmission replacement, clutch and drivetrain replacements.
“We can do everything a semi-tractor or trailer needs”Ertman sums it up. “Bracket fabrication, aluminum welding – a one-stop shop of sorts.”
He adds that all of Ertman Truck Repair’s employees are DOT certified, although not every garage can perform a Department of Transportation (DOT) certified inspection.
Following the relocation of Ertman Truck Repair, Ertman plans to expand the business’s services to parts sales as well.
But Ertman acknowledges that the pandemic has made it harder to find parts amongst the many challenges for truckers.
“Some pieces come out in a week to 10 days”Ertman says. “There are also cost increases”
The pandemic has also left many businesses short of manpower. But Ertman is happy to report that he now has four full-time mechanics and is able to keep his shop open from 8am to 5pm.
Ertman recommends that trucks be serviced every 5,000 km.
“You think that’s a lot of miles, but if you drive every day, it’s not”says. “It always seems like something is broken.”
Ertman will book many miles in his personal vehicle in the coming months. His most recent business, JD’s Hideaway, recently opened in Mankato.
After years in the trucking business, one might wonder why Ertman decided to open a bar. However, Ertman “Everyone needs to have something different to enter life. You don’t want to keep all your eggs in one basket.”
A brand new business, JD’s Hideaway opened in downtown Mankato on August 4.
The ‘adult children’s funhouse’ offers pool tables, darts and ax throws, along with food and drink.
“There is no such thing in Mankato and I wanted to be the first”Ertman says. “I just love that area. It has a good population and it’s a university town.”
While Ertman will certainly be dedicating a few business hours in Mankato in the coming weeks, the Faribault County native keeps his heart at home.
“I’ve lived here all my life”He added that he grew up in Winnebago. “I love the community and I love the area.”
His family is indeed rooted in the county. Ertman’s wife, Lisa, recently completed her nursing education.
Meanwhile, Ertman expressed that their nine-year-old sons Drake and six-year-old Gage are interested in taking over his business one day.
“My overall goal is to build something for my kids”Ertman explains: “I came from nowhere and moved on to what I am now. I am very lucky.”