Outback Autobody: A Successful Dakota Business Lending 504 Borrower

March 15, 2018

In the small town of Minot, North Dakota, entrepreneurs Byron and Denise Norsby own and operate the thriving business, Outback Autobody. “We work on any make, model or year vehicles, boats, pontoons, motorcycles, etc.” says co-owner Byron. Throughout the years, the couple has developed the skills and knowledge to know what it takes to create a successful business in a small town. Like any city, small towns value businesses that they can count on to serve their community by providing the best products and services possible at fair prices. Outback Autobody has found their niche in the community of Minot and have a reputation for, “fixing it right the first time.” The business is a direct repair shop for 17 different insurance companies, 3 fleet management companies (which handle claims for large companies such as Burlington Northern Santa Fe, CP Rail, Deli Express, Baker Hughes, ADT, and HP) and they are the preferred provider for General Services Administration, which handles federal government vehicles, Three Affiliated Tribes, and military support vehicles. But, the business didn’t get to where it is today overnight. It took a lot of determination and multiple years of learning from others for the Norsby’s to achieve their goals.

Byron Norsby started his career as a technician at the age of 19 while completing his degree in Auto Body Repair and Refinishing, graduating from North Dakota State College of Science in Wahpeton, ND in 1979. While in college, Byron knew right away that he wanted to own his own business one day. He spent 7 years acquiring the necessary business skills and gaining experience in auto body repair before owning his own body shop in Glenburn, ND for 5 years. Byron was then recruited and hired as the manager of Jim Ryan Chevrolet's body shop in Minot where he worked for 8 years. In 1996, he made the move to Westlie Motor Company's Body Shop where he managed all operations prior to starting his own business in 2002. 

“After I gained the knowledge from college and years of hands on experience, I decided to start a collision repair shop.” Byron says that Minot was in need of this type of service because “…dealerships in the Minot area were starting to close their shops.” He says that his vision for the business was to create “a great place to work for the employees and a trustful place for customers to take their vehicles for collision repair.” Outback Autobody has fulfilled that goal.              

Throughout his management career, Byron earned a tremendous amount of respect within the industry and a great clientele base. Since 2002, Outback Autobody has specialized in providing the highest quality repairs with integrity and honesty, using state-of-the-art equipment and materials. Byron Norsby handles all day-to-day body shop operations in addition to all marketing, scheduling of employees and work flow, maintaining equipment, ordering supplies and inventory, and customer relations. Denise Norsby handles all office responsibilities including payroll, maintenance of personnel manuals, and Quickbooks entries. Denise also owns Your Money Matters, a bookkeeping service company that she started in 1997. Byron says that he doesn’t mind wearing multiple hats throughout the day; in fact, he says it’s one of his favorite parts of owning his own business. 

“The variety can make the days fly by and gives you the freedom to prioritize tasks and do them as they are required or needed.”

For the first 11 years of Outback Autobody’s history, the couple leased a building from Ryan Chevrolet and had 3 employees.  As their business grew, their need for additional space to operate out of also grew. Byron says, “Our goal was to find property that would be affordable and easy for all current and new customers to find.” In 2014, the couple purchased Fisher Motors Collision Center and moved Outback Autobody to the new location. To get the financing necessary to fund the acquisition of their real estate, the Norsby’s chose to use a Small Business Administration (SBA) 504 loan through Dakota Certified Development Corporation (CDC) in partnership with Peoples State Bank. This allowed them to add large truck repair to their services, a spacious parking lot and a larger office space. Before the relocation, the business had about 1/3 of the space and only 3 employees. Upon completion, the size of their building was increased by 3; the staff grew to 12 employees; and the business expanded their overall customer base.

Bryon says that the relocation, like any big project, “was a lot of work at first, with a few bumps in the road, but our business has adjusted well.” The Norsby’s were very pleased with the service provided by Dakota CDC.  When asked about the Dakota CDC team, Byron responded with, “Incredible!” He continues, “The DCDC team is a great group of individuals with a lot of knowledge. They made my job very easy.” Byron says that they were able to fulfill their dreams of owning their own building with the assistance from the SBA 504 loan. His words of advice for anyone looking to start or expand their business include:

“Be patient and have all of your paperwork in order. Allow your bank, SBA and DCDC work together. In the long run, with all the partners needed to make it happen, the end result is incredible.”

Through the transition, Outback Autobody never lost the respect of the community. Byron says, “The reaction from customers and other businesses in town has been outstanding; it’s very heartwarming.”  The business has remained efficient and competitive by emphasizing the importance of staying on the cutting edge of technology. Not only do community members appreciate getting their vehicles “fixed right, the first time” they also get to enjoy the new amenities of the different location. “Customers love our new parking lot…they also love the new office as we serve water, coffee, hot chocolate and popcorn,” Byron says. “We also have a salt water fish tank for them to watch while waiting.” By committing to provide the highest quality, honest services and tending to customer needs both in the office and in the repair shop, it’s safe to say that the Outback Autobody has proved to be a major asset to the small community of Minot.