Faces In the Crowd – Jim Paetschow

July 5, 2018

Gene Bodnar

I met Jim Paetschow for this interview at Ruckles Pier in Clare.  I had done a little research on him before the meeting, so I was expecting to see a man about 50 years of age.  When a man who appeared to be in his early 30s introduced himself to me as Jim Paetschow, I was astonished, and it took a couple of minutes for me to get over it.  He said that everybody thinks he’s much younger.  He attributes his youthful look to “eating well and taking good care of himself.”

Jim Paetschow

Jim Paetschow

Jim was born in Midland in 1968.  He attended the Midland school system until his 4th grade.  His family moved to Clare at this time, so he began attending school in the Clare school system, graduating from Clare High School.  He has two sisters, one older and one younger, both of whom also are Clare High School graduates who currently live in North Carolina.  Jim is a single man.

While he was in the 7th grade, he started a business in the basement of the Methodist Church in Clare called Sound Productions, Inc.  At the time, Jim had no idea where the company was going.  Today, this company is the largest entertainment company in Michigan.  It provides wedding services that includes music for the wedding ceremony itself as well as entertainment for the reception, and as his website says, “and everything in between.”  His company also provides photo booth rentals, the ideal party favor for wedding receptions, bar mitzvahs, and corporate events.  The company also can enhance corporate events by providing speakers, microphones, screens, lighting, and even staging.

From 1987 to 1990, Jim attended Ferris State University.  At first, he majored in electrical engineering but he found it to be “too boring,” so he switched his major to automotive engineering, where he eventually graduated with an Associate’s degree in Automotive Engineering Technology/Technician.

Within a year after graduation, Jim started another business:  Jim’s Body Shop.  Initially, the business opened in a pole barn behind his home in Clare.  Since that time, it has expanded several times to the point where it now employs more than 20 employees who work with state-of-the-art equipment and who provide auto painting, paintless dent repair, and other body work in which they boast, “If we do our job, you won’t see out work.”  Jim’s Body Shop also sprays Bullet Liners for local dealerships and customers as well as painting commercial equipment and even Amish buggies.

In 2003, Jim formed Mid-Michigan Towing as an off-shoot of Jim’s Body Shop.  Initially having three tow trucks, four more have been added.  In 2013, Jim acquired Snoopy’s Towing, a business that has been around for 35 years in Clare.  Last year, Jim also purchased Zuker Towing and Recovery in Mt. Pleasant, a business that has existed nearly 50 years.

Founded in 2008, Jim opened a business called Red Hook Properties with its office located on E. Maple in Clare.  This organization primarily operates as a rental agent and real estate business, which currently has well over 100 properties.

Another business owned by Jim is Limo Fun, which he acquired about six years ago.  Starting out with the purchase of only one vehicle, this business, too, has grown into the largest of its kind in Michigan, with an ever-growing fleet of limousines, luxury buses, and party buses – a perfect vehicle for any entertainment event.  The driver of every hired vehicle receives extensive background checks and driving record evaluations, and all vehicles are maintained and inspected weekly by Jim’s own licensed mechanics.

Jim also owns the Tobacco Ranch, which is on 76 acres of land, bordering on the Tobacco River in Clare, about ¾ of a mile from the Doherty Hotel.  The home on the

Tobacco River Ranch

Tobacco River Ranch

property, which was built by Isaiah Leebove who had ties to the Purple Gang, is a spacious ranch-style home that consists of stone pillars, multiple stone fireplaces, and a large enclosed porch overlooking a pond – all of which still exist today.  Leebove entertained many oil barons, mobsters, and friends until he was murdered at the Doherty Hotel tap room bar on May 14, 1938, by his business partner in the local oil industry, and fellow Purple Gang associate, Carl “Jack” Livingston.

The Tobacco Ranch property is a work-in-progress, and Jim says it will be such a project even long after it is opened.  It will be used for ceremonies, social gatherings and receptions. There are several locations along the river, a ball-room, two barns, a pond, and an area for a large tent. Large cedar trees, flowing creeks, beautifully landscaped flora, and other natural backdrops will frame whatever event is held there.

The White Wagon in Rosebush is a recent acquisition of Jim’s.  Renovations have begun in the past few weeks, starting with the removal of all the pine trees along the north side of the parking lot.  He expects to do complete renovations inside and out.  He said that everything will be modernized and up-to-date.  A big outdoor deck, a volleyball area, and a whole new vibe for the nearly 50-year-old establishment are in the works.  When it is opened, it will operate seven days a week, with music every Friday and Saturday.  Lunch and dinner will be served every day, and breakfast on Friday through Sunday.
I asked Jim what he did for entertainment in his free time.  Not surprisingly, he responded, “Work.”  Calling him a self-confessed workaholic is a gross understatement.  On the other hand, Jim did mention the fact that he has done a lot of traveling all around the country.

When the occasion arises, he provides assistance to many other community-oriented people in Clare County.  For example, he assisted the Animal Shelter in revamping their Facebook page, making it much more likely that folks might volunteer their services, provide monetary donations, or adopt pets.

He has provided such services to many others in the community, but he likes to remain behind the scenes.  As he says, “We are all helping one another in this community.  The goal is to make the community a better place for everyone.”  He derives satisfaction from the fact that he himself knows that he contributed to the betterment of the community.

What makes Jim Paetschow so successful in such a wide variety of different enterprises?  That is easily determined by compiling a list of things he NEVER SAID in this interview.  For example, not once did I hear, “I can’t do that,” or “I don’t know how.”  Jim would find out how, then do it.  He never once said, “I did everything on my own.”  Instead, he surrounds himself with people who are as dedicated as he is.  Jim never said, “I’m too busy.”  When an opportunity arises, Jim obviously does what it takes to make it happen.  Finally, he never once said, “I’m not good enough.”  Instead, Jim would learn quickly and become an expert at whatever he attempted.

Yes, Jim is a self-confessed workaholic, and I am sure he agrees with the statement that the only place success comes before work is in the dictionary.  As a result of his work in exceptionally diverse enterprises and behind-the-scenes activities, Jim has contributed immensely to the enrichment of the community as a whole.

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