By Janelle Walker
SOUTH ELGIN, Ill.
Wicked Wrench Co. was Frank Hjelm Sr.’s dying wish for his children, daughters Jaime and Naomi Hjelm say.
Hjelm, who founded South Elgin, Ill.-based A#1 Cab Co. with wife Karen in 1985, died May 3.
His daughters had already taken over the taxi business, but their car mechanic brother was not part of the family enterprise.
“Dad sat us down in January and said, ‘Bring your brother back and let’s do outside work. We have a huge facility” for working on cars, Jaime Hjelm said.
Once the village of South Elgin approved a special use permit allowing the cab company’s shop, well-stocked with equipment for servicing its fleet of taxis and private transport vehicles, they made plans to open a car repair business. The doors to Wicked Wrench opened recently.
There will be no changes to A#1 Cab, Jaime Hjelm said. They still plan on serving 70 area municipalities with their taxis, and its dispatch system will continue to operate out of their Production Drive location. Business is good, both said, even in the age of Uber and Lyft drivers.
But the expansion into offering auto repair and maintenance services will help their employees as well since it will give their mechanics more to do.
Once their fleet of taxis was almost entirely American-made vehicles, but a few years ago they began switching to Toyotas, including hybrids. “There is a lot less maintenance to do” on those cars, Hjelm said.
Frank Jr. is part of the business, just as their father requested.
The name Wicked Wrench Co. was picked for a few reasons, although Jaime Hjelm admitted, “We wanted something that would look cool on a T-shirt.”