DELMONT - Brandt Garner is building a reputation as a fixer.
With those skills, he's hoping to build up Delmont's only gas station when he takes over as its new owner in the coming months.
Garner, along with his wife, Mariana, will take ownership of the Agland Cooperative service station and garage in July. The Garners, who have lived in Delmont since October, are getting acclimated to their new town, but local residents have been eager to welcome them.
"They've said, 'Hey, you're the new people,'" Brandt Garner said. "You get recognized like that. But they've been good to us so far."
The change in ownership wouldn't be a big deal if Delmont, which had an estimated 219 residents in 2018, wasn't in a bind for businesses that meet small-town needs. The next closest towns with gas stations or grocery stores are 12 to 15 miles away in Parkston, Tripp or Armour.
The Garners, who married last year and moved to Delmont from the Yankton area, got right to work. Mariana works at a local hog farm, while Brandt started to carve out a fabrication and repair business, called Rebel Wrenches. He started working on small engines and some farm equipment, using social media to get his word out about his business.
"It's been a good kind of challenge to get things going," he said. "We're looking forward to building this business from scratch."
Brandt Garner purchased a building in Delmont for his business that can't be missed - it's painted bright purple - and it happens to be across the street from Agland's convenience store. The cooperative has had a location in Delmont since 1962. But the co-op had struggled to get employees to work at the Delmont location, and has had limited hours in recent months. The co-op also recently closed its Ethan convenience store location.
Brandt Garner said it took some convincing when he approached the co-op about purchasing the Delmont business, but he was informed in late May that Agland would accept his offer. In a letter to customers, Agland Co-op's Board of Directors encouraged Delmont residents to help support the new business, because "we believe the people of Delmont need and desire to have a viable facility operating there."
The Garners intend to take over the operation in early July. They say they would like to keep some groceries on hand and to have expanded hours seven days a week to allow for more convenience for the community.
Brandt Garner said he's working to build up the supply chain and understands that running a small shop and gas station will be a challenge, but it is something he believes Delmont will support.
"This is a good town and they want to see small businesses survive and work here," he said. "And I know we'll put in the work we need to make that happen."