By Daniel Nash
A new automotive shop has opened at 1418 Wood Ave. near downtown Sumner.
Quale “T” Automotive (pronounced “quality”) relocated from Federal Way in September, bringing with it a full-service automotive business from oil changes and routine maintenance to custom modifications.
Owner Mark Quale has more than 25 years of experience as an auto mechanic and has owned his own shop since 1994. His shop in Federal Way was closed by the city when it was determined his shop was in the middle of a planned road project to connect Pacific Highway and 356th Street. The experience discouraged Quale from relocating within the city.
“I’ve been doing this a long time and I like the feel of a small town,” Quale said. “And Sumner has been very good to us so far. We’ve been busy every day and people keep coming in with new projects.”
“We’ve only been open a couple weeks, but we’re doing extremely well for a couple weeks,” Service Manager Lonny Vara said.
In turn, Quale “T” offers a shuttle service to clients and a convenient location near the Sounder train station.
The shop occupies a three-bay garage next to the train tracks. The facility is a functional work in process. All the pieces necessary to run the shop are in place, but small touches – like a facade to separate the customer desk from the shop – still need to be put in place.
“Mark is a whiz,” Vara said. “He’s able to build anything. He took care of the desk up front and soon he’s going to be building the wall between the shop and the desk.”
Quale prefers to work on older model cars, since those are what he learned his trade on, he said. In addition to tune-ups and repairs, he also crafts custom additions for cars, especially four-wheel drive vehicles.
In the bay farthest from the shop entrance, a few of his projects were recently on display. A mid-90s sport utility vehicle had a half-finished heavy-duty bumper attached to its front-end. On the ground was something resembling an oversized metal spider: a heavy web of metal bars that was close to becoming a finished exterior roll cage.
“This thing represents about 100 hours of work,” Quale said. “So you can see, I’m not afraid of doing bigger welding projects. If you’re willing to pay me, I’m willing to work.”
Quale and Vara are currently the only employees of Quale “T” with Quale performing mechanical work and Vara handling the customer service side of the business.
Even with the small staff, the shop is open 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. With three garage bays to hold projects, the duo will be looking for two more experienced mechanics as business picks up.
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