Belt Auto to continue sales, but closes service department

At the age of 17, Raymond Bozwell began washing cars at Belt Auto & Trailer Sales, then known as R.K. Belt & Sons, through a high school trade school program.

On Sept. 1, after 46 years, Bozwell clocked out for the final time as the service center’s doors closed for good.

Belt will continue to sell automobiles, as well as H&H Trailers and Merritt Trailers, at its 300 E. Washington Ave. location in Red Oak.

The decision to close the service center was necessary, said owner, Butch Belt. He had been searching for Bozwell’s replacement, with no avail, for about five years. With no qualified candidates, and Bozwell wanting to retire, Belt had to finally act.

“If I can’t have qualified people, I’d rather not have it at all,” said Belt. “I hated to be the one that pulled the plug, but it is the right thing to do.”

He added Raymond, and his son, Chris, have been exceptional employees over the past several decades.

“He is very trustworthy and knowledgable. He has a lot of experience you can’t get out of a book,” Belt said of Raymond. “When he works on a car, it’s as if he is working on his own.”

Raymond said technology has been the biggest change in repairing cars over the years. When he started as a mechanic, a car could be fixed over the phone. Today, he said, it is a constant learning process.

“If you don’t know how to chase down electrical circuits, electronics or how to run a scanner, you can’t fix cars today,” said Raymond.

He added he will miss the friendships he has developed over the years and working with his son, Chris, for the past 20 years.

“It’s been a good career,” he said. “I will miss it.”

It was Butch’s grandfather, R.K., who came to Red Oak from Coffeeville, and started Red Oak Wholesale Fruit and Grocery. He then went on to operate a John Deere dealership in the Belt Building, also in Red Oak. In the later 1940s, he added an Oldsmobile and Cadillac dealership. Butch started working at the dealership while in high school. He continued while in college and took over its management in 1972. In 1980, he bought the business and continued its growth; purchasing a Chevrolet dealership in 1988 and McAlpin Motors in 1996. 

The Red Oak Express

2012 Commerce Drive
P.O. Box 377
Red Oak, IA 51566
Phone: 712-623-2566 Fax: 712-623-2568

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