April 9, 2009

Tom Kat Repair: A place to call home

By Brenda L. Shelkey

Three years ago, Tom and Katy Kassian attended a Love ND conference in Denver, Colo. Tom Kassian, a native of North Dakota, was surprised to see people he knew from the Wilton area where he grew up, including Lyndon Anderson from Great River Energy and Al Christianson from the Washburn area. They were part of an ambassadors group interested in helping bring native North Dakotans back to North Dakota. In 2006, with encouragement from the Love ND group, the couple and their three sons, Jonathan, now 19 and living in Colorado, Dillon, now 18 and in the Marines, and James, now 17 and in high school, moved to McLean County and are living on a farm north of Wilton. Kassian set up his business, Tom Kat On Site, a mobile semi-truck repair service that travels statewide. Kassian’s wife, Katy, got on board with the North Dakota Chamber of Commerce Ambassador program, both in an official and non-official capacity. Even though she is a California native, she became one of the biggest advocates of the rural lifestyle found in North Dakota. In corresponding with her family back home, she put in a plug for living in North Dakota every chance she got. She said, "My background is in sales and I love it. I would tell my family about all the things I was doing and how great living in North Dakota is." Her cousins, Tom and Stephanie LeDoux, were intrigued by the stories K. Kassian told. Tom LeDoux was cautious about what he heard, but his wife was enthusiastic about the possibilities. She wanted to be part of the North Dakota way of life. She told K. Kassian, "I want to learn how to bake bread and do all of the things you are doing." But the dream wouldn’t become real for the LeDoux family unless Tom could find work close to family. The Kassians heard about the repair shop closing at the Washburn Cenex about a year ago. They believed that opening an automotive repair business in the available space would serve a void for the community of Washburn.


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