KAMSACK - It has been said; “Retirement is not the end of the road, but the beginning of the open highway.”
Those words seem quite apt when describing the outlook for Kamsack couple, Larry and Dianne Zbeetnoff, who plan to finally carve out some time to work on their diamond in the rough – 1965 T-Bird, spend more quality time with family, and eventually take off together on the open road to travel cross-country.
It’s been more than 35 years that Kamsack and area residents have relied on the breadth of skills and friendly customer service that has always greeted them at Country Service, located at 503 Queen Elizabeth Blvd.
The Zbeetnoff’s said that while they are looking forward to this next chapter – they will definitely miss the daily interactions with the people who have supported them over the years. One long-time regular customer of the automotive repair shop described walking into the establishment as feeling like “putting on a warm housecoat and slippers.”
Larry has become widely known as the mechanic with the broad knowledge to fix anything on wheels, and customers are already voicing concern as to what they will do once Larry transitions to his new life of retirement.
“I’m torn about it,” said Larry. “I’ve been doing this so long that the shop has really become a big part of my life. But on the other hand – the time just feels right to move on to other things.”
While there are no plans as to what will happen with the business in the future, Country Service employee of over 12 years, Mike Eliuk, will be making the transition to work for Kamsack’s OK Tire. Over the years, Larry has trained so many apprentices that he’s lost count. He says many of them have gone on to find stable employment throughout the prairies – some in automotive shops, and others in the trucking and mining industries where their skills are immensely valuable.
“Finding someone to take over the business is a possibility,” explained Larry. “I would be open to helping someone make the transition to get up and running. But right now, we don’t really know what the future holds.”
Over the years, Dianne has stepped in and out of working in the front of the shop – taking calls and running the office. She said that although they work at the same location, the married couple often gets so busy that they only really see each other during lunch breaks.
“The first year when COVID hit, things slowed down a bit,” explained Dianne. “However, this last year got so busy that I had to step back into working at the shop full-time – which has become way too much for me.”
Married when they were both just 19 years old, the Zbeetnoff’s first met when they were in kindergarten. During their teen years, Larry was hired as a farm hand by Dianne’s parents – and that is when the young man really caught Dianne’s eye. Dianne recalled how her mother was very fond of Larry, describing him as “a good, dependable man.” Now looking back at 46 years of marriage, the pair said that throughout the ups and downs in life, they made it work, in part, by keeping an open line of communication.
While you may not be able to find Dianne and Larry at the shop for much longer, you might catch “Lake Granny” and “Pappa” (as they are known to their family) delighting in their six grandchildren and three-year-old great-grandchild out at their home on Madge Lake.
Down the line, there may also be the opportunity to give a wave to the couple as they cruise down Queen Elizabeth Boulevard in a sparkling 65’ T-Bird with a couple of ice-cream cones in hand.