March 12, 2009

Change of hats doesn't change Ruff's heart

By Brenda L. Shelkey

The attractions of a small town like Underwood are many, especially to a young man who is drawn to a small town atmosphere. So it was for a young Clayton Ruff twenty years ago after he earned his degree in auto body at Wahpeton. So it is today, even as he prepares to turn his business over to a new owner within the week. Ruff knew then that he loved auto body. He worked for several years at Fargo’s Finest -- even before he had finished his degree in auto body. But holding a job in Fargo meant he was missing the small town atmosphere. He quit when he had enough of the city and went back to his hometown of Edgely to work at an auto body shop there. "I enjoy small town life a lot better than a big city like Fargo," said Ruff. It was what brought him to Underwood 20 years ago. Ruff said, "I had a good friend over in Turtle Lake, Clyde Nelson, who I knew for years through the auto body association. He was the one who told me he thought that this would be a good place for me to set up shop." It was 1989 and the body shop in question was located in Underwood and belonged to George Werre and Duane Fischer who had run the body shop for 35 years. "I came in and asked George and Duane if they would be interested in selling me their shop," said Ruff. "I caught them a bit off guard, but I told them what I needed as far as financial figures." They went off into a corner and talked, then came back and told him to come back in a week for their decision.



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