‘The only full-service in Fort Dodge’
At Anderson’s, customers can stay in the car while gas tank is filled
An elderly woman drove her van next to one of the gas pumps at Anderson Station on a mild winter day Thursday morning.
And out from the office walked Colten Anderson, a mechanic who asked the woman how she was doing before he filled the tank of the vehicle with gas.
He then popped the hood and checked the oil for her.
Anderson Station, 706 Second Ave. S., is a place customers can go where they don’t have to get out of the car to get their fuel and get back on the road.
It is the only full-service gas station in Fort Dodge.
And it’s one of the few left in the state of Iowa.
“We are the only full-service in Fort Dodge and also the longest running one as far as I know,” said owner Doyle Anderson, who has been working on cars and pumping gas since the 1980s. His son is Colten Anderson, a 2009 Fort Dodge Senior High graduate. His other son, Cody Anderson, a 2011 FDSH graduate, also helps out at the shop.
Doyle Anderson and his wife Jennifer Anderson have owned the station since the early 2000s. They bought it from Doyle Anderson’s parents, Wayne and Kay.
Offering the full-service is a benefit for customers, whether they are disabled for any reason or just because they think it’s too cold.
“We will go out, pump their gas, check their oil and tires if they want,” Doyle Anderson said. “When it’s 20 below they don’t have to get out of their car and do any of the stuff themselves.”
Anderson said he sees a lot of repeat customers.
“We have a lot of good customers,” he said. “They range from all different ages. Some are handicapped, some are not. Some are businessmen. Some are regular workers.”
The business started out as a Standard Oil in the mid-1950s before Wayne and Kay gained control of it in the late ’70s. At that time, it was renamed Anderson Standard.
While Doyle Anderson said he might see 60 to 80 cars stop by for gas in a given day, he said business isn’t quite what it once was.
“I feel it was a lot busier in the earlier days,” he said.
He said when the roundabout was installed northwest of the shop and traffic was essentially redirected to travel along First Avenue South rather than Second Avenue South, some business was lost.
That work was done in 2015.
“The road realignment impacted business,” Doyle Anderson said.
The Harvest Baptist Church is visible to west of the station’s parking lot.
To the south is a vacant gas station.
“Those guys retired,” Doyle Anderson said.
And to the southwest is the old Fareway grocery store, which now serves as a recreation center.
Throughout his experience, Doyle Anderson has seen a lot of cars come and go.
One van in particular accelerated a little too fast into the parking lot.
In 1989, that van crashed into the full-service gas island at Anderson’s, causing a minor explosion and immediate fire, according to Messenger records.
Doyle Anderson and John Adams, both station employees at the time, pulled the woman from the car and carried her away from the fire, according to reports.
“I was walking through the office when she hit the pumps and we we went out and got her out of the van while everything was on fire,” Doyle Anderson recalled.
Officials at the time said between the two men’s efforts and the Fort Dodge Fire Department’s quick response, a deadly situation was avoided.
Soon it was back to business as usual. And working with cars has become the family business.
“It was something I knew, so I felt I could keep doing it and provide for my family,” Doyle Anderson said.
In addition to providing fuel, the Andersons works on tires, batteries and oil changes in the shop.
Jennifer Anderson does the bookwork, while Doyle Anderson focuses on the mechanics. Tom Tabat works part-time.
“My sons help out at times,” Doyle Anderson said. “All my kids have helped out at one time or another.”
His daughter, Madi Anderson, a 2015 FDSH graduate, likes to ring the bell at the shop just to let them know she’s there.
“She likes to jump on the bell every time when she’s down here,” her brother, Cody Anderson, said.
“She will stand outside and jump on it until someone comes to get her,” Jennifer Anderson added. “And she’s taught her cousins how to do it, too.”
In terms of car repairs, Doyle Anderson believes cars don’t break down quite as much as they used to.
“They aren’t breaking down as much,” he said. “It does cost more to fix them when they do.”
The shop is at its busiest during times when extreme temperatures are experienced.
“Extreme heat and extreme cold,” Doyle Anderson said.
Colten Anderson said when he turned 14, working at the shop became his summer job.
Cody Anderson does whatever he can to help out, too. Sometimes that’s bringing lunch.
“I’ll bring him (Doyle) food or make something and make sure he doesn’t have to leave,” Cody Anderson said.
Cody Anderson said he likes talking to people out in public who know his father.
“Being able to go out and people recognize us,” he said. “We have a great dad who does great work at a nice, small shop.”
Jennifer Anderson said some people have never pumped their own gas before. And Doyle Anderson is just fine with that.
“(After her husband died) my grandma came in and had never pumped her own gas before, and he (Doyle) said, ‘We treat everyone like it was our grandma because how would you feel if someone took advantage of your grandma?'”
Jennifer Anderson added, “I am very proud of who he is.”