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Rawlings open Bob's Automotive on Harry-Rich Drive

Photo by Brian Hansel Bob and Kari Rawlings are the founders and owners of Bob's Automotive in Wadena. The new business is at 229 Harry-Rich Drive.

Bob and Kari Rawlings are out to give Wadena a lift.

The Rawlings have opened Bob's Automotive on Harry-Rich Drive across from Sunnybrook Park.

Their shop was built by former car dealer Rich Stuntebeck in 1966 and later housed a fleet of trucks. The spacious building has received a huge upgrade from the Rawlings, including plenty of wall insulation and a new furnace. The shop is also equipped with three Bendpak lifts, one rated for 14,000 pounds and two more rated for 10,000, the latest diagnostic equipment and a John Bean alignment system.

"We are fully functional as far as our alignment and tires," Bob said.

While Bob, who has worked in the automotive business for 30 years, uses his ASE-certified master technician skills in the shop, Kari, will be the office manager.

Bob's Automotive will offer "dealership quality service" and they expect to see most of their business come from people in the Tri-County (Wadena, Todd and Otter Tail) area.

Bob's Automotive will also stock and sell a large line of tires including Cooper, Hankook, Goodyear, Continental and General.

While Bob is a native of Kentucky and Kari grew up in North Dakota, they have called Wadena their home for the last six years.

"It's a crossroads if you are going north to the lakes or west to the lakes," Bob said.

Bob worked at dealerships in Perham, Park Rapids and Brainerd. They live on a former Amish family farm southwest of Wadena where they raise cattle, horses and chickens. The Rawlings understand the impact of a car "store" or dealership on a community the size of Wadena. Their goal is to have a positive impact on Wadena.

The Rawlings have another ASE-certified technician, Dave Eckenrode, helping with the shop work.

"We are equipped to handle any job in the automotive business," Bob said.

The Rawlings believe they will be competitive with the rest of Wadena's automotive repair shops and feel the public will be the biggest gainers.

"Competition is good for the people," Bob said. "Choice is good for the people."

With some of the nearest new car dealerships in Park Rapids, Fergus Falls and Brainerd, Bob believes people will be giving much more attention to the care of their vehicles in the years ahead.

"I think they are going to have to," Bob said. "They're going to have to protect their investment."