“The worst part about retirement is you never get a day off,” he said.
Klepzig was born into a family that was involved in the timber business in Fremont, Mo. Because of the nature of the timber business, his family moved frequently during his childhood.
“I didn’t go to the same school two years in a row until the seventh grade,” Klepzig said. His family finally settled back in Fremont and remained there until Klepzig graduated high school.
After high school Klepzig spent a few years doing a variety of jobs, including working at his dad’s lumber mill and hauling vehicles for a car dealership. Eventually, however, he returned to Fremont, where he became reacquainted with Billie, a girl he’d known since seventh grade. The couple married in 1953.
A year after their marriage Klepzig was drafted into the military during the Korean War. He spent the following two years in Germany. During that time several members of his family relocated to Colorado. “The timber business was ... really slow, so [Billie’s] dad and mother came out here to the town of Nucla, Colo.,” he said.
When Klepzig was discharged from the military, he and Billie Klepzig followed suit, moving to Norwood, Colo., where Klepzig worked at the sawmills for a few months.
Klepzig heard about a trucking job in Moab in the late 1950s.
“I was driving a truck hauling uranium ore after the timber [business] shut down when I heard of a job over here,” he said. Klepzig stayed in that job for a little over a year.
In 1960, Klepzig experimented with the idea of going into business for himself by leasing a service station at La Sal Junction.
“We were out there for over six years,” he said. “It was tough.”
With the Lisbon Valley Mines in full swing, Klepzig said business at the service station was booming. “We’d have guys lined up every morning.”
Seven years later, he bought a service station in Moab, and his family was able to move into town. From there, Klepzig branched out, opening a distributorship to service haulers working on the oil fields. By the 1980s Klepzig had distributorships in five different locations, including Moab, Grand Junction, Colo., Duchesne, Coalville and Rock Springs, Wyo.
“Three of the coldest places in the nation, but that’s where the rigs were at,” Klepzig said.
In 1984, the oil market bottomed out.
“The price of oil dropped from $40 a barrel to $9,” he said. “I never knew you could lose money on oil.”
Klepzig was forced to downsize his company. “I never had a problem firing people if they deserved it,” he said. “But to say good-bye to people you’d worked with for 15 years ... That was tough.”
Though Klepzig is mostly retired, he still owns the Carquest Auto Parts Store, a business he happened into due to unforeseen circumstances. Klepzig bought the building in 1969. He used it for offices for his distributorship business. Eventually, he leased one end of the building to a car parts store. In 1983, that business was repossessed by the bank.
“I didn’t want an empty building, so I bought the inventory and took over the store,” he said.
Though Klepzig still drops in at the store on occasion, his son now manages the day-to-day operations.
“I can’t work the computers,” Klepzig said.
Klepzig said he is driven to stay busy. At the height of business, he was running five different corporations including La Sal Oil, La Sal Truck, a company that sold brine water for the oil wells, a propane company and the auto parts store. Now he spends his days farming, working on his cabin in the mountains, and enjoying time with his three kids and their children. He and Billie also recently celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary.