DES MOINES, Iowa – A consignment shop with roots across the country has found a home in Des Moines.
For nine decades, Merrill Axle and Wheel Service has been a downtown staple. It has been a family business for five years.
Marcellus Merrill opened the Des Moines site in 1932 and Richard Hays ran it. Eventually, the Sereg family took it over, kept it going, and made sure it remained a part of history.
“He’s my dad, his name is John,” Ruth Sereg said, pointing to a photo, “and he started here in 1954.”
John Sereg ended up buying the auto shop in 1970.
“I remember coming over on Saturday and helping Dad,” said Charlie Sereg, vice president of Merrill Axle and Wheel Service, “and handing him some tools.”
The business was eventually handed over to the children.
“We grew up doing it and it’s a way of life and it’s what we’ve always done,” said Dave Sereg, president of Merrill Axle and Wheel.
Dave, Charlie and Ruth are siblings who never thought they would ever work together.
“I went to school as a licensed cosmetologist. I couldn’t find a job and mom said, “Well, I need help here.” And I thought I really didn’t want to work with my brothers, but I’ve been here ever since.
Now the third generation of Seregs repairs cars.
“You have to do something right to be around for 90 years,” said Steven Sereg, technician at Merrill Axle and Wheel. “We would like to see it go to 100.”
Steven is Dave’s son and Marcus is Charlie’s. They found that working with family is not always easy.
“Sometimes it’s a little difficult,” said Marcus Sereg, technician at Merrill Axle and Wheel. “I mean, obviously every family has its ups and downs, but most of the time it’s fun.”
Working on the cars and getting the right parts has proven to be the real challenge over the years.
“Oh, it becomes extremely difficult to fix them,” said Steven Sereg. “It’s not as easy as before. Lots of mechanics, all the computers and all that really complicates things.
Through a pandemic and constant change, the Seregs have learned to adapt.
“It looks like you have to keep up with the changes or you’ll be swept under the rug,” Dave Sereg said.
“We did what we had to do to keep the doors open and we just have to do what you have to do,” added Charlie Sereg.
And they succeeded and kept busy. Now, as they look to the future, they are eager to keep this business in the family.
“I hope to see my grandsons and nephews and maybe a niece working here,” Charlie Sereg said. “We have a lot to do and there is always room for more.”
“Like my dad said, he used to come down when he was a kid. Well, I came down as a kid and kinda swept and did stuff like that,” Marcus Sereg said. “It’s pretty cool to see he’s still around and hopefully carrying on the legacy for another 90 years.”
Merrill Axle and Wheel will celebrate its 90th anniversary on Friday, June 17.
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