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New life for Glafka's in Sterling

Ambulance salesman revives long-vacant West End building

Published: Monday, Feb. 24, 2014 1:15 a.m. CDT
Caption
(Philip Marruffo/pmarruffo@saukvalley.com)
Kevin Klocke, 55, of Dixon, owner of Klocke's Emergency Vehicles, stands with some of the ambulances for sale in his new shop in the former Glafka's Tire City Building on West Fourth Street and Avenue G in Sterling. Klocke, a Rock Falls native, has been a salesman for more than 30 years.
Caption
(Philip Marruffo/pmarruffo@saukvalley.com)
Klocke's sole employee and all-around handyman, Butch Neal, of Rock Falls, looks through the demo ambulance parked in the garage.
Caption
(Philip Marruffo/pmarruffo@saukvalley.com)
Midwest Commercial Wholesale, an online equipment consignment and auction business, has set up shop in the east end of the building at 608 W. Fourth St.
Caption
(Philip Marruffo/pmarruffo@saukvalley.com)
Kevin Klocke, owner of Klocke's Emergency Vehicles, talks about his business at his Sterling location.

STERLING – A longtime area ambulance salesman is breathing new life into a long-vacant eyesore on Sterling's West End.

Kevin Klocke, who for more than three decades sold ambulances for Foster Coach Sales Inc. in Sterling, has struck out on his own, opening Klocke's Emergency Vehicles in the 12,000-square-foot building at West Fourth Street and Avenue G that for years housed Glafka's Tire City (remember that big tire-on-a-stick sign?).

Glafka's closed about 7 years ago; the building at the busy intersection had been quietly decaying since.

Klocke already has remodeled the interior, redoing the front office, sprucing up most of the garage area. He also persuaded his pal, Colby Snyder, to move his Rock Falls equipment sales and auction business, Midwest Commercial Wholesale, into the east end of the building.

Klocke and his fix-up man and only employee, Butch Neal of Rock Falls, plan to tackle the facade and the other half of the garage next.

Klocke is a dealer for the manufacturer Life Line Emergency Vehicles, of Sumner, Iowa. He handles new and used models and trade-ins, and also sells Stryker medical cots; his sales territory is in Iowa.

He's got a big white behemoth, a $170,000 4WD Ford S450 Super Duty XLT, and a couple of other ambulances in the shop at the moment; the Ford is his demo vehicle.

He has a company in Clinton, Iowa, that does whatever graphics his buyers want, and Mike's Auto Repair, conveniently located across the street, does any mechanical work he might need, Klocke says.

"I really enjoy the business; I've been doing it for 30 years," he said.

Klocke, 55, graduated from Rock Falls High School in 1977. He now lives in Dixon with his wife, Jan, a substitute teacher, and rides his bicycle to work when weather permits. They have two children, Jake, 23, who works at Slim 'N Hanks, and Molly, 27, who lives in Davenport.

His friend Snyder, 31, a Sterling native and 2000 Sterling High grad, has been in business 2 years.

Midwest Commercial Wholesale was located in a warehouse in the Rock Falls Industrial Park until opening in Sterling in September.

Snyder, the owner/broker/auctioneer, sells all kinds of equipment from farms or businesses that have gone out of business – for instance, he is selling kitchen equipment for Wyanet Meats at the moment – mostly on consignment.

The items usually are available retail for a month or two, then go up for auction, mostly online, he said.

He usually has a wide range of items available – in addition to the butcher shop equipment, for example, Snyder has a self-playing grand piano from a Chicago restaurant on his retail roster.

And if you don't see something you need on his website, just ask – he has connections and clients all over the Midwest, he said.

To learn more

Klocke's Emergency Vehicles is at 608 W. Fourth St.

Go to www.klockesev.com or contact owner Kevin Klocke at kevin@klockesev.com or 815-499-6577 to learn more.

Midwest Commercial Wholesale also is at 608 W. Fourth. Office hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday.

Go to www.midwestcommercialwholesale.com or find it on Facebook for an inventory of equipment for sale and information on upcoming auctions.

Owner Colby Snyder can be reached at colby@midwestcw.com or 815-535-3244, to learn more.

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