WAUPACA, WI - Construction of an approximately 5,100-square-foot automotive repair shop is expected to begin soon at 323 S. Western Ave., in Waupaca.
"We hope to start by the end of August, and we hope to have it done by Thanksgiving," said Scott Bickley, owner of Little Wolf Automotive, which has a quick lube service at 225 S. Western Ave. in Waupaca and also a repair shop in Manawa.
Bickley opened his business in Manawa on July 3, 2006 after years of experience, which included working at a school bus garage in Rockford, Illinois and also for Toyota and Lexus dealerships.
"I bought the old Jones Farm Store in Manawa and decided to go out on my own," he said.
Those who live in the Manawa area have been and continue to be great for the business, Bickley said.
Three years ago, Little Wolf Automotive expanded into Waupaca, when he bought the former Express Lube at 225 S. Western Ave.
"We've always wanted to be in the Waupaca area," Bickley said. "The Express Lube became available. We were watching it. When it became available, we put in an offer. There were two others. We were the highest offer."
When Little Wolf Automotive started in Waupaca, business there took off faster than they expected.
What they found was as people went there for oil changes and other maintenance services, Bickley's staff noticed other items needing to be fixed.
"We would either have to send them to Manawa or somewhere else," Bickley said.
For some time, they have been sending staff back and forth between the Waupaca and Manawa locations.
They decided to also build an automotive repair shop in Waupaca as a way to provide better service to their local customers.
"I know there's a need for a shop here. Our customers have demanded it," he said.
After also looking at property on West Fulton Street, they bought a 6.5-acre parcel down the street from their existing business.
That was about a year ago, and before purchasing it, Bickley talked to Brennan Kane, the city's development director, about what he wanted to do.
About two acres on the site are buildable, and Bickley spent a year visiting about a dozen repair shops throughout the country to see what he liked and disliked.
There will be six bays in his new shop in Waupaca.
Last month, the Waupaca Common Council approved Bickley's request for a special use permit for the project.
The groundbreaking took place this month, and a developer's agreement between Bickley and the city is being sought.
"The current location will be maintenance - oil changes, rotations. This will be our repairs," Bickley said of the new building in Waupaca.
He said there will be between six and eight employees at the Waupaca repair shop.
Bickley, who grew up on a dairy farm in Iola, moved to Waupaca with his parents when he was in eighth grade.
He was a paper boy for both the Milwaukee Journal and the Milwaukee Sentinel and worked at Hardees Restaurant and the former Ron & Lloyd's Grocery Store.
Bickley was a senior in high school when his family moved to California. He returned to the area after he graduated from high school.
He and his wife, Diane, met when they were students at First Baptist School.
They later became reacquainted through family and friends.
Diane works at Faulks Brothers Construction. The couple has three children: 10-year-old Elizabeth, 8-year-old Grant and 5-year-old Samuel.