Fire brought them closer together — literally.
After last May’s massive fire in downtown Brandon destroyed the building, Collyer’s Sales & Service moved what was left of its inventory from Pacific Avenue into Custom Auto & Truck Accessories on Rosser Avenue.
It’s been there ever since.
On Feb. 1, Custom Auto & Truck Accessories owner Ken Nerbas finalized a deal to buy the business from Ken Collyer.
Custom Auto & Truck Accessories sells just what the name implies, while Collyer’s Sales & Service carries and repairs different brands of lawn mowers, snowblowers and other outdoor power products such as trimmers.
"We are different, but at the end of the day we have a very similar customer base," Nerbas said.
"It’s a big farming community. A lot of farmers own trucks, and a lot of farmers have lawn mowers. It just seems to fit."
Nerbas bought the rights to the Collyer’s name, which has been in business in Brandon for more than 40 years.
Custom Auto has been in business since 1986. Nerbas took over in 2013.
Collyer and his former employee now work alongside Nerbas and his staff member on Rosser.
Collyer said he had been talks with Nerbas before the fire with the idea of selling the business he and his father once operated together.
Only about 10 per cent of Collyer’s inventory survived, and so he decided it was time move ahead with the sale.
"It was kind of a gradual thing over the winter," he said, adding he has no problem being an employee rather than a boss.
"It’s a good adjustment," said Collyer, 66, adding instead of working 12-hour days, he can now put in eight hours and call it a day.
Warner Buck, the owner of the property at 545 Pacific Ave., said in an interview with The Brandon Sun earlier this month a new design for the building is being worked on.
While there are no drawings yet, Buck told the Sun he’s hopeful the building will be done in an early 20th-century design, which will help draw people back to downtown.
"We’re trying to make downtown Brandon look like something and revive it."
The top floor of the former Collyer’s building burned down last May after the Christies Office Plus building at 705 Pacific Ave. caught fire.
Buck said he received an insurance payment for the damage and will be looking to find new tenants once the building is rebuilt.
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