Editor's note: The following is a press release from the Lakeville Area Chamber of Commerce announcing Karl Drotning, president and CEO of , as the 2012 Business Person of the Year.
Karl Drotning, president CEO of Lakeville's Crystal Lake Automotive, Inc., has been named 2012 Business Person of the Year by the Lakeville Area Chamber of Commerce.
Drotning opened the mechanical and collision repair facility in 1986 and now occupies 25,000 square feet of space and employs 26 full time workers including several family members.
Drotning and his co-owner of Crystal Lake Automotive, Jim Siegfried, have an impressive 75 years of automotive experience between them. Drotning believes his role is to set the tone for the business, make major decisions, lead and create the vision.
“My business partner and I believe in helping people through people," he said.
Believing in partnerships, relationships and mentoring, Drotning treats his employees like customers and customers like employees because he believes they all need a reason to be there.
“When I was 8 or 9 years old, I adopted an automotive collision and mechanical repair shop in the neighborhood," he said. "They never kicked me out, and I never left. My first paycheck was at 11 years old and I spent 25 years there. I grew up helping people with their car problems.
“Our vision is to be the premier provider of automotive service in a positive safe and growing environment," Drotning said. "Our entire business plan revolves around teaching, coaching, leadership and providing a venue for personal growth.”
As an Accredited Automotive Manager himself, many of Crystal Lake’s administrative and leadership staff has received continuing education to earn the Accredited Automotive Manager designation. Drotning’s repair and refinish technicians are ASE certified in their respective fields as well.
“Our employees are encouraged and expected to continuously improve both as people and professionals," he said.
Drotning is very active in both business associations and the community. His impressive list of business activities include past-president and board member of the Automotive Service Association Minnesota; training auditor and state president of Inter Industry Conference on Auto Collision Repair, a national automotive training association.
With 15 years of service on the Lakeville Planning Commission, Drotning is now senior member and has been past chair and vice chair. He has served as District 16 Representative for the Metropolitan Council Land Use Advisory Committee. In 1992 and again in 1998 Mr. Drotning participated in the Lakeville Strategic Growth Task Force and in the 2000 and 2010 Lakeville Comprehensive Plan updates. In addition, the County Road 42 Task Force study group and the I-35 Solutions Alliance have both benefited from his involvement. In 2011 he became the District 16 citizen representative to the Metropolitan Council Transportation Advisory Board.
His volunteer activities have included baseball umpire, softball coach and he is a past Scout troop 111 Board Member and Scoutmaster.
He is an active member of the Lakeville Chamber of Commerce and his company proudly supports the work of the Robert Lewis House and 360 Communities. Annually, Crystal Lake Automotive, Inc., co-sponsors a Kids Against Hunger food packaging program with friends, employees and their families.
Drotning has been married for 42 years to his wife Vickie who worked at the family business for the first ten years. Karl describes the characteristic of their marriage while working together like a car, himself as the “accelerator” and his wife as the “brakes”. They have lived in Lakeville for over 30 years raising two children, Scot and Charla. Son Scot works with his father at Crystal Lake Automotive.
The Drotning’s have six grandchildren all attending district 194 and 196 schools.
Drotning views his business as his main hobby but also enjoys community service, traveling with his wife in their Winnebago, boating, and collecting old cars (owner of over 25 cars, many for parts). He feels his favorite car purchases have been narrowed to four but in no specific order: 56 Chevy Belair 2 door sedan (first car); 68 Chevy Biscayne 2 door post 427 4 speed (married in); 2006 Chevy SSR Pickup (called it the “contruckable” as it had a retractable roof); and 2010 Camaro (his prize for quitting smoking) that was later traded in for the Winnebago.