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Quality Auto Body & Glass opens in Wadena

Photo by Rachelle Klemme Gary Paavola stands by the bake room at Quality Auto Body & Glass.

An old U.S. Highway 10 building has a new makeover and a new business.

Quality Auto Body & Glass, with its dark red and gray exterior and southwestern-style logo, has filled what used to be an empty pale orange building on 116 Ash Ave. since Gary Paavola leased the building and created his first sole proprietorship.

Body work, collision repair and restoration are among Paavola's services.

"Probably 90 percent of the business is insurance work," he said.

And the "Glass" part of the title?

"I do repair and replacement of windshields, side glass, back glass, basically all the glass on a vehicle," Paavola said.

Although he has done a few jobs for people he knows, business officially opened on Nov. 15.

Right now, Paavola works by himself, but he says he hopes to hire about three employees when business picks up enough.

"I do work for all insurance companies, that doesn't matter, I can help handle the claim, kind of help the customer out that way. If they have an accident, just bring it in and we can contact the insurance company from here," he said.

Work on the building started on some strange circumstances.

"The first day we started remodeling/demolition on this was the day of the tornado," he said.

Paavola said he and the construction workers were watching the weather as they did their job. The building does not have a basement, and when the storm hit, he and the construction workers could see the tornado which missed them by about 100 yards.

In a much calmer setting, the waiting room features some colorful, unique furniture.

"They're actually Volkswagen bugs and beetles that I take and make a loveseat out of them," Paavola said.

He takes the body and strips it down to make it as light as possible. The chairs retain the original dashes, and the stereo and lights still work.

"They're kind of a fun hobby of mine," he said.

The shop itself includes a bake booth for the finish, and he keeps up with innovations in the industry.

"I do have the new waterborne paint which is green, less solvents and stuff, so it's the newest product out there," he said.

Paavola has many years of experience in his field and degrees from M State Brainerd and Bemidji State University.

"I've been doing it for 30 years now," he said.

Paavola said that he had a partnership in Perham. He was half owner of Schmitz's, a body shop which he later sold out to his partner. He worked at Domino Ford as a body shop manager and then as a service manager, but Domino went out of business. After two years of work at another body shop in Park Rapids, he decided to strike out on his own -- in Wadena, the town where he already lived.

Paavola said he not only knows the business well, but enjoys it.

"I still like it," he said.

Weekday hours for the body shop are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Tentative Saturday hours are 8 a.m. to noon.

Quality Auto Body & Glass can be contacted on the shop phone at (218) 632-5770.