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Ken's Auto & Lockshop in new location

Ken Smith completes engine work on vintage vehicles. He recently installed a late model overdrive automatic transmission to the 1950 Plymouth street rod convertible. (Jean Ruzicka / Enterprise)

Like the restoration of a vintage vehicle, Ken's Auto and Locksmith Shop on Highway 71 south has been a work in progress.

But now Ken and wife Lisa Ann Smith are entering a new key in the lock to enter their business located three miles south of Park Rapids.

The "lock Smith" originally opened his business in 1978 on Main, across from Wimpy's Café.

Three years later, Ken's Automotive debuted, the business located just south of his current building. He specialized in transmission repair as well as full service auto repair.

In 1985, the locksmith and auto business combined at the Highway 71 location.

As the business evolved, so did the building. In 1990 a transmission rebuilding stall was added as were an office area and parts storage.

The new building project began six years ago, Lisa Ann recalled. By 2008, the interior was completed and in May, the business moved to its new location, two antique gas pumps adding defining character to the building's exterior.

Without the help of former employees and our children, we wouldn't be in the new shop, Lisa Ann said. Son Mike built the main counter, holding vintage replicas, and finished the trim work.

Smith, who stocks 1,200 keys, provides full service locksmithing, residential and commercial. This includes deadbolt installations, safe combination changes and repairs, key origination and duplication. His service includes transponder-equipped vehicles.

Smith can build keys for vehicles that have been lost, including ignition and trunks. He replaces worn keys and locks. Locks can be keyed to one combination; a single key opening all doors to a building or residence.

When remodeling, locks can be built that will work with the existing key.

He will work on site to complete repairs and replacements.

And since 2000, Smith also does repairs on collector cars. He specializes in installing late '80s overdrive automatic transmissions, in street rods and classics.

Future plans include the installation of a wind turbine outside the shop.

Smith is generally at the shop from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday but he's on call from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. seven days a week.