Trailer’s contents get CU Boulder student through college, recognized nationally

A rusted semi-trailer wedged between a corn field and a dusty county road north of Greeley holds the key to getting Nicolaus Wolfrum through college.

Inside, shelves are stacked high with used and remanufactured car parts — surplus from Wolfrum’s dad, Jimmie Wolfrum, collecting odds and ends from his auto engine remanufacturing business for the past 30-some years.

Jimmie Wolfrum pointed a grease-coated finger out the window of Jim’s Automotive Machine Shop, Inc., toward the trailer.

“I never dreamed that would be his college education,” he said, of his son.

Nicolaus Wolfrum never dreamed an eBay shop he created to sell car parts and help pay his way as an engineering student at the University of Colorado would blow up to the point of being a finalist in an eBay small business competition.

The father-son team is getting used to surprises.

When Nicolaus Wolfrum was in high school, he and his dad constantly butted heads.

“You couldn’t hardly put the two of us in the same room together,” Jimmie Wolfrum said.

But after Nicolaus Wolfrum went to college, the 20-year-old said he grew up, his dad mellowed out, and now the two are a dynamic duo.

“It’s really been a bonding experience,” Jimmie Wolfrum said. “I enjoy having him around.”

‘Always on my mind’

Nicolaus Wolfrum started helping out around his dad’s shop the summer after his freshman year at CU.

Engineering classes made him look at the auto shop in a whole new way. Jimmie Wolfrum said he’ll watch his son pick up a car part, bring it close to his face and try to figure out how it works.

On his long commute from his Gunbarrel apartment to his parent’s home and the auto shop 15 miles north of Greeley, Nicolaus Wolfrum said he sometimes can’t stop thinking about the mechanics of engines and the science behind them.

“My education always comes first,” the student said. “And that just shows you, it’s always on my mind.”

When fall rolled around, he knew he wanted a job to help pay for school and pad his pockets,…

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