BEMIDJI -- The last gas station has left the “Junction.”
After 68 years, Dick’s Northside is still located on Bemidji’s north side, but its new owners have moved the business to 4289 Minnkota Ave. NW, near Sanford Bemidji Medical Center. Chris and Charity Hanevold purchased the business last month and moved to the larger location to focus on service and repairs.
The Hanevolds are the fourth owners of the business, which began in 1952 when the Shell Oil Company built the station for Bemidji businessman Len Hein and his wife, Trudy. Back then, U.S. Highway 2 ran right through town, and the station was on the highway at what many locals refer to as the junction. Nowadays, it’s where Paul Bunyan Drive heads west from Bemidji Avenue. At one time, there were four stations at the junction, one on every corner.
The Heins owned the station -- then called Northside Shell -- until 1967, when they sold it to Dick and Audrey Jorstad. That’s when it became known as Dick’s Northside, a brand that lives on through two subsequent ownerships.
“I’m glad we could keep the tradition going,” Chris Hanevold said. “I was sad to see the old station close down, but we needed more space and this was an opportunity for us to build on what had already been a great foundation.”
Mark and Betty Lindy bought the station from the Jorstads in 1991 and ran it for 29 years before selling to the Hanevolds.
“Same as I, Chris saw the value in keeping the name,” Mark Lindy said. “Dick was an absolute prince. Dick taught me well. He just gave me some real simple pointers. Here’s what you do to make this business flourish, and it did.”
It all began in 1952 with the Shell station. Len Hein had started Bemidji Welders Supply in 1947 next door to where the station would later be built. After Shell Oil built the station and turned over the keys to the Heins, Trudy was the bookkeeper and Len was running both businesses.
“He was a hard worker, let me tell you,” said his daughter, Leslie Hartje. "I remember walking up to the station when I was in junior high. It was a busy, busy place.”
Bemidji Welders Supply also was busy, so much so that the Heins were ready to sell the station in the late 1960s.
Along came the Jorstads, and the new name, Dick’s Northside.
“It was full service,” said Dick Jorstad Jr. “We did a lot of what we called LOFs -- lube, oil and filter. In looking back on things, my dad was probably too generous for the amount of work he did and the money that he charged. It means quite a bit that Mark was willing to keep Dick’s Northside name in the community because it meant good service and trust and a fair treatment to the customers.”
The Lindy's kept customer service at the forefront.
“The only thing I miss is all of the wonderful people,” Mark Lindy said. “I had a guy send me $50 thanking me for taking his money for 30 years. Can you believe that? He sent me a card along with at least another dozen people. These are genuine feelings from people. It’s pretty good ego food, I tell you.”
Chris Hanevold has worked at Dick’s since 1999 when his Bemidji High School welding teacher, Bill Harms, advised the Lindy's to hire the youngster.
“(Chris) was absolutely fantastic from day one,” Mark Lindy said, “and now he’s truly flourishing out there already.”
Len and Trudy Hein, and Dick and Audrey Jorstad have all passed away, and Mark and Betty Lindy are starting to enjoy retirement. The original station is empty. The property is for sale. But the legacy that began 68 years ago continues.