The Summerland Review is beginning a series of profiles of business people in the community.
This week, we spoke with Kelsey and Katrina van Alphen of Alder Street Auto Body.
“I’ve always loved cars, ever since I was five years old,” Kelsey said.
When he was 13 years old, he built a soapbox race car for Alder Street Auto Body, his family’s business.
The car still functions and this year, it has been refinished.
Years later, he built a colourful and noticeable four-wheel-drive truck which features the business’s logo among other images which he proudly displays.
Because of this lifelong love of cars, Van Alphen was the first high school student in B.C. to take apprenticeship training before he had graduated.
He worked at auto body shops in Calgary, where he met his wife Katrina.
In 2004, the couple received a call from Kelsey’s parents, Marty and Linda Van Alphen, owners of Alder Street Auto Body, asking if they would be interested in purchasing and taking over the business.
The purchase took time, as the couple spent a year seeking the funding and financing required to buy the business.
The first years at the business were difficult.
They had some staff turnover when they took over the business and they wondered whether the community would continue to support the business as it was now under new ownership.
During those years, the couple would often spend long hours at the shop to complete the work on time.
“Both of us are driven,” Kelsey said. “There is no such a word as failure for us.”
And looking back, they have no regrets about their decision to move to Summerland and take over the auto body business.
Over the years, he has worked to rebuild and repair plenty of vehicles, in Summerland and beyond.
He said each auto body repair job presents a new challenge for him and his team.
“It’s always a different puzzle,” he said. “No two cars are ever hit the same way.”
One of their staff members, Jason Mathers, has been at the shop for 20 years and has filled every role at the shop over the years.
Others on staff have also spent many years at Alder Street, and the Van Alphens refer to their staff as a family.
They also have brought in work experience students from Summerland Secondary School.
They see the work experience program as a way they can give back to the community.
The value of giving back to the community has also motivated Kelsey to volunteer with the Summerland Kinsmen and to spend time on the board of the Summerland Chamber of Commerce.
“My parents raised me well,” he said.
Kelsey and Katrina, who had both grown up in small communities, appreciate the small-town lifestyle they have in Summerland.
During their first week in Summerland, Kelsey said the community was much quieter than where they had lived in Calgary. “I couldn’t sleep. There was no noise,” he said.
Katrina added that the small-town lifestyle has been an ideal atmosphere for them to raise their children.
“We have a safe place for our kids to grow up,” she said.
They have a 10-year-old daughter, Kara, a seven-year-old son, Korbyn and a four-year old son, Kolton.
As a family, they enjoy camping and outdoor activities in the area.
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