Auto body shop goes greenWhen you think of green businesses, auto body shops don’t often spring to mind.
By: Maria Lockwood, Superior Telegram
When you think of green businesses, auto body shops don’t often spring to mind.
One family-owned auto business in Superior, however, has been greening up for years.
Len’s Auto Body LLC made the switch to waterborne paint two years ago. Although the paint is more expensive, said owner Len Steltz, it’s better for the environment. He also expects national regulations to soon make it mandatory.
“We’re ahead of the curve,” he said.
According to the EPA, waterborne paints contain much lower levels of volatile organic compounds and are less toxic than solvent-based paints. Switching to waterborne paint improves air quality and the environment. But the move meant big changes to the shop’s paint booth because air, not heat, is used to dry the paint. Mixing the paint in shop, Steltz can customize and match colors for clients.
In conjunction with the Focus on Energy program, the shop at 1901 N. Fourth St. recently made the switch to electronic ballast lights.
“Every light bulb has been changed in this building,” Steltz said, 211 in all. “It’s going to save us $70 to $130 a month. That’s how effective they are.”
The family’s commitment to the environment doesn’t stop there.
“We recycle all our cardboard and steel,” Steltz said. “We even recycle heat from our air compressor. It heats our shop.”
The crew at Len’s cares about the neighbors just as much as the environment. The paint booth is heavily filtered to prevent fumes from wafting in the area.
“A lot of shops, the neighbors can smell it for miles,” Steltz said, but not theirs.
He also recently mentored a pair of Superior High School students who built a custom motorcycle for their senior project.
The auto body shop is run by Steltz and his wife, Joan, who celebrated their 40th wedding anniversary on Mother’s Day. The business started in 2000 on Winter Street. It opened at the current site, a former Frito Lay warehouse, in 2007. Len’s Auto Body employs five, including the Steltz’ son, Chad. With an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau and a commitment to the environment, the family hopes to encourage customers to swing by their shop instead of heading across the bridge for repairs.
“Our slogan is ‘Len’s Auto Body, where particular people call,’” Joan Steltz said.
Along with traditional auto body repair, the family business replaces glass windshields fixes car door hinges, and puts windows that have come off the track. They work on motorcycles and RVs and offer free, clean loaner cars.
The paint booth is used for more than just vehicle parts. For the past few years, the Superior auto body shop has provided exterior painting of window frames and sashes as well as patio doors for Walsh Vinyl Windows and Doors of Duluth. Gary Love, one of the owners of Walsh, said the waterborne paint offered by Len’s was a great match for their business.
“They do a good job,” he said.
For more information on Len’s Auto Body, look up their Facebook page or call 715-395-6972.