Rev Up Big Red
Dr. Jeffrey Schwert of the Blooming Prairie Dental Center at 132 2nd Ave. NE, has a faithful friend.
That friend is Big Red or Rusty Tomato, whichever name you may wish to choose.
Big Red or Rusty Tomato is also known as a 2003 Ford 150 truck that Dr. Schwert bought in the fall of 2002. He has been traveling to and from work from his farm home near Rock Dell.
"His truck is simply amazing," says Doug Hillson, service manager at Krejci Ford in Blooming Prairie. Schwert's truck just passed the 410,000 mile mark on his odometer.
"I'm shooting for 500,000 miles and I think I can make it," Schwert dreams. "If we could only stop that rust," Schwert said.
"Doug at Krejci," says Schwert has told him that he may soon be resembling Fred Flintstone and will be pedaling his truck with his feet on solid ground.
Rick Krejci, owner of Krejci Ford, says Schwert has always serviced his truck faithfully. He said this truck's mileage total is the highest he has ever seen on a vehicle sold by Krejci. "Most people don't drive their vehicles that long," Krejci added.
"Customers like Jeff make this business fun," Krejci says.
Schwert agrees that his strong belief in maintenance has enabled him to get this high mileage count. "It's like flossing your teeth, it has to be done regularly," he explained. He said he has done no work on the 5.4-liter truck engine. "He's just done brakes and other routine work," Krejci said.
He owned a 1991 Ford Explorer that turned over 313,000 miles before he retired it.
"It's nice when you can trust somebody like Krejci Ford," Schwert said. He has bought many of his other vehicles there and has them maintained religiously.
Schwert said he soon will inherit his wife's Ford Expedition which has 230,000 miles on it and served as her real estate car. She has bought a new truck and is a firm believer in Ford trucks, too. She competes with her two cutting horses on the Schwert 50-acre hobby farm.
Schwert grew up on a hobby farm near Rochester and graduated from Rochester John Marshall High School.
After graduating from the University of Minnesota Dental School in 1986, Schwert practiced in Spring Valley, then with Dr. Doug Peak in Rochester. "I have been looking at teeth for a long time," he laughs.
He came to Blooming Prairie in 1991, the day after a mega storm hit the small southeastern Minnesota city.
The Schwerts have four boys: Andy, 34; Seth, 31; Steven, 29 and Cody, 28.
Dr. Schwert loves living in the country. When he is not practicing general dentistry in Blooming Prairie, he is doing farm work.
"I'm about ready to cut hay," he said. He has another partner, too, his black lab dog named Whistler. "He goes everywhere with me, including in the truck," Schwert mentioned.
In addition to two horses and his black lab, Schwert has two donkeys, another dog, four cats and six steers.
Schwert admits to driving his trusty, rusty F-150 in all kinds of conditions but said he does not beat the engine. "I try to be reasonable." He does admit to driving his truck hard, using it for fishing and duck hunting trips and also using it for farm chores.
Workmanship on the F-150 is also important, says Schwert. He also has a Ford 350 one-ton truck that he uses with a stock trailer.
He says he keeps a jug of brake fluid in the truck because it has a leak in the line. "The truck runs like a top and the body will go first," he predicts.
Maintenance is also emphasized by Schwert on his four-wheelers, lawn mowers and his 18-year-old Kabota tractor.
Why has Ford led the way with trucks that go forever? Schwert said it must be durability. "These trucks are dependable and don't break down," he affirmed.
"I enjoy what I do and find a nice balance, being inside as a dentist and outside as a farmer and sportsman," Schwert explained.
Schwert owns the Fit and Tan exercise business next to his dental office and he also rents space to an orthodontist, Dr. Deborah Lien.
"I really like Blooming Prairie. The people are so honest, fair and nice to deal with. Patients are also willing to switch appointments if another patient needs quicker attention,” Schwert said.
He is the lone dentist in his office. His office is open Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and a half day on Fridays. His hygienist is Denise Kinny and his office manager is Shawn Johnson.