Norfolk businessman recognized for 30-years of service to Northeast Community College
NORFOLK, Neb. – Ron Lingenfelter was looking through some old items in a box at his business Norfolk Transmission and Muffler and came across something that made him stop to think how much times have changed since the doors first opened in 1973.
“I found a ticket of the very first transmission we did in a pickup. We took it out, rebuilt it and put it back in for $249,” he said. “That was a three speed. Now there are six speeds, eight speeds, 10 speeds. And there are computers inside transmissions. The technology has just been incredible.”
As the business prepares to celebrate its 50th anniversary on Jan. 16, Lingenfelter, who serves as manager, is also observing another milestone that has impacted his career. It has been 30-years since he first began serving on the Northeast Community College automotive technology program’s advisory committee. He was recognized for his three decades of service at a recent advisory committee meeting.
The committee meets twice a year, which is part of the reaccreditation requirement for the program. However, the relationship with its members goes further than that.
“Committee members help us stay on top of the industry trends,” said Joe Ottis, automotive technology instructor. “So, input from members of previous students, employers, independent shops, and dealerships provide us a good mix of details in producing the kind of employees they need.”
For the college and the program specifically, Lingenfelter allows instructors to bring students into his shop for a tour while technicians also provide presentations on several areas related to transmission services including taking apart torque converters.
“And then if students need parts for transmissions or if they need help with anything as far Ron’s test equipment that we don't have at the college, he's provided that as a free service to them,” Ottis said. “He’s always willing to help them out.”
As part of his service to the program, Lingenfelter continually provides donations of equipment and transmission parts students can use to work on in the Northeast shop. Ottis said Lingenfelter understands the industry and shares insights on what’s happening with the instructors and students.
Lingenfelter credits Northeast for giving his family its start in the business. His older brother, the late Kim Lingenfelter, was a 1973 automotive technology graduate of Northeast Nebraska Technical College, a predecessor institution to Northeast Community College. He was an outstanding student in college.
A June 6, 1972, letter Kim received from the dean of students said, “You are the first student in the history of Northeast Nebraska Technical College to receive straight A’s and carry more than the full normal load of 18 quarter hours. You are to be congratulated for this fine effort.”
Kim Lingenfelter purchased the business on Jan. 16, 1973. It began in a small location as Norfolk Transmission and Engine Service at 120 Norfolk Ave. in downtown Norfolk providing complete transmission service and selling wholesale and rebuilt transmissions. Additionally, the business rebuilt engines and provided tune-ups, brake and automotive work. It moved to its present location at 13th St. and Michigan Ave in 1984. The business is owned by Ron’s sister-in-law, Deb Lingenfelter.
Ron Lingenfelter, a 1981 graduate of Northeast Technical Community College, said he’s proud of the association the business has forged with the College over five decades.
“We get a lot of employees from Northeast and Northeast has been very, very important to us. We also want to keep tabs on what they’re teaching and how they are instructing their students. It’s been very beneficial to both the college and our business.”
The recognition Lingenfelter has received from Northeast for his 30-years of service on the advisory committee means a lot to him. He said he and his team love to work with Northeast and to contribute to students’ success in their journey into the automotive technology industry.
“We’ve seen students who now have their own shops and continue to buy from us while at the same time we have students we have hired who continue to work here. So, the relationship is good for both of us - we help each other while helping the students out too.”