WILLMAR -- Longtime Willmar businessman Walt Gislason has sold his gas station, convenience store, car wash and oil change business at the corner of First Street and Willmar Avenue South to four employees and another local business owner.
The business was bought by Mike Brown, owner of Floor to Ceiling Store, and by convenience store/gas station manager Jeff Armstrong, general manager Scott Barney, office manager Ruth Smith and oil change manager Matt Evans.
Brown said the sale was closed Monday and takes effect today.
He said the new owners do not plan to change the name of the business.
The gas station and car wash were started by Gislason's brother, Virgil, in 1969. Walt and his wife, Raeanna, joined the business in 1971.
Brown said the sale had been in the works for a while, "but it came about pretty sudden."
Brown said Gislason has been a great business owner and has done many good things for the community.
"We're going to continue in the goodwill that he's done," Brown said Monday evening. "We're going to have as little change as possible in the way they do business and we're going to try to enhance some of the services that they offer."
Gislason said Monday evening that he has mixed emotions about the sale, "but we have to go forward." He said he has no idea what he'll be doing in retirement, but is "taking suggestions."
Gislason said the sale "kind of unfolded" after a previous offer did not work out. When that happened, the managers asked if they could pick it up and Gislason said he agreed. They also wanted to have Brown as a co-owner.
"Mike has a good reputation and he's a sharp operator. I think he will just enhance it greatly," Gislason said.
He said he did not think customers will see any changes.
"The same people are going to be meeting them and greeting them at the door and taking care of them," he said.
They might also see the former owner from time to time.
"I can't imagine that I wouldn't stop down there and have some popcorn and visit with some of their customers," Gislason said.