The revamped warehouse on U.S. 2, ringed with wet cement, clanged with the sound of construction equipment. Inside, amid the sawdust, Scott, Kathryn and Ryan Motley stood as a cheerful trio — finishing each other’s sentences and discussing the placement of the sign that will mark a new chapter for a business that is far from new to the Flathead Valley.
“It started out of a van, and then out of our garage, and then Ash Road,” said Kathryn. And in a few weeks, Dent Magic, the Flathead’s first paintless dent repair shop, will move its business of small, cost-effective cosmetic auto repairs to Evergreen, after several years on Holt Stage Road.
Though the space and the proximity to town will be new, the Motleys said Dent Magic will maintain the quality of repair business that they’ve made their niche in the community.
Scott Motley, a fourth-generation Montanan originally from Hamilton, began the business in his garage over 25 years ago.
“He learned paintless dent repair when the industry was first being pioneered,” said Ryan, Scott’s son, who is preparing to one day take over the family business.
At the time, he said, paintless dent repair was a small, but growing niche in auto maintenance. The specialized art uses metal rods to slowly mold the auto body back to its original shape, without requiring paint or intensive repairs that would damage a car’s finish.
Paintless dent repair shops provide services such as “removing door dents, collision dents, hail damage, all that kind of stuff without doing any painting,” Ryan said. “So we work all the dents from the back side of the panel and we meticulously massage them back to where they need to be.”
The art is ideal for erasing small-scale damage that is a nuisance, but too small to justify a collision-scale repair.
For several years, Scott developed the Dent Magic business out of his van, by traveling across the state — to Great Falls, to Helena, to Kalispell — building a reputation through dealerships and word of mouth. For a time, he chased hail storms, looking to pick up business from the dents left in their wake.
Finally, about 20 years ago, the family settled the business in Kalispell, first on Ash Road, then on Holt Stage. Dent Magic has developed a minor painting side, which includes bumper blends, bumper repairs and spot repairs. But the heart of the business remains smoothing out auto-body kinks or damage quickly and cost-effectively with no environmental impact.
“It’s the little stuff that a lot of people live with because they don’t want to go get half their car repainted,” said Scott. “We can fix that — we keep our repairs small, a lot of our repairs are done without painting so they retain their factory finish, they retain the value of their car by keeping it looking great. It’s quick in and out,” Scott noted.
“And it’s a less invasive repair on their vehicle. You’re not grinding the paint off, you’re not spot welding,” added Ryan.
And with over two decades experience perfecting auto bodies, the Motleys said they have paintless dent repair down to a quick, painless science.
“I think that’s what really sets us apart...most of our repairs are 48 hours or less, a lot of our repairs are same day,” said Ryan. “Some are done while you wait,” added Scott.
The move to Evergreen, a year in the making, presents an opportunity for more space and a more mainstream location closer to town. “We do a lot of retail now,” said Ryan, and the Evergreen shop will allow Dent Magic to “service our retail customers better and to provide some working opportunities to some more people.” He said the business currently has four employees but is planning to take on more in the future.
The Motleys also noted that moving to Evergreen offered a chance to join a collaborative business community. “We’re excited to be a part of the growth that’s happening here,” said Kathryn.
The Motleys anticipate that the new location, at 2550 U.S. 2 E., will open full time before the end of the summer. Until then, the Holt Stage Road location will remain open for repairs. For more information, visit www.dentmagic.com or call 755-4112.
Reporter Adrian Horton can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 758-4439.