MOORHEAD - Ward Muscatell says his new $6.5 million collision center will bring him a big competitive advantage in the area and his customers top-notch service.

“I feel it’s probably the nicest set-up for a body shop from Minneapols to Billings (Mont.),” Muscatell said during a tour Tuesday, Jan. 12.

The 30,000-square-foot shop - double the size of Muscatell’s old facility - opened Christmas week at 1120 29th Ave. S., on the Muscatell Subaru southside campus. It’s 24 service bays have been plenty busy since.

Shop Manager Dave Hettwer leads a tour Tuesday, Jan. 12, of the Muscatell Collision Center, 1120 29th Ave. S., Moorhead.
Michael Vosburg / Forum Photo Editor
Shop Manager Dave Hettwer leads a tour Tuesday, Jan. 12, of the Muscatell Collision Center, 1120 29th Ave. S., Moorhead. Michael Vosburg / Forum Photo Editor

“We probably have one of the largest shops in Fargo-Moorhead,” Manager Dave Hettwer said. ”It is definitely the biggest in Moorhead. We work on any make and model.”

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The latest generation of cars, trucks, SUVs and vans are packed with lots of sophisticated technology, including back-up cameras, radars and self-stopping systems.

That means the Muscatell repair technicians are constantly updating their skills to gain the certifications they need to work on Suburus, Fords, and other makes and models, Hettwer said.

“If you don’t know what you’re doing, you can be in trouble really quick” in repairing newer vehicles, Hettwer said. “People want state-of-the-art. … They want new.”

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The facility has two modern, downdraft paint booths already installed. A third paint booth from the old collision center will soon be moved into the painting space.

The modern water-based paints are also much more eco-friendly than previous paints, Hettwer said, keeping hazardous waste to a minimum.

The Muscatell Collision Center in Moorhead holds two paint booths Tuesday, Jan. 12, with a third booth to be added soon.
Michael Vosburg / Forum Photo Editor
The Muscatell Collision Center in Moorhead holds two paint booths Tuesday, Jan. 12, with a third booth to be added soon. Michael Vosburg / Forum Photo Editor

The new collision center has a lot more indoor vehicle storage space.

“There was just not two inches of room,” in the old collision center, Hettwer said.

And there’s a fenced and gated area to secure overflow vehicles at busy times.

“That’s one of the things we wanted to have, security,” Hettwer said.

Muscatell said he’s added more courtesy vehicles, too, for people who need transportation while their vehicles are being repaired.

The Muscatell Collision Center is seen Tuesday, Jan. 12, at 1120 29th Ave. S., Moorhead.
Michael Vosburg / Forum Photo Editor
The Muscatell Collision Center is seen Tuesday, Jan. 12, at 1120 29th Ave. S., Moorhead. Michael Vosburg / Forum Photo Editor

Muscatell has been in the auto business for years, but went full-time into being a Subaru dealer in 1997. He moved the dealership to its current location 2017. The campus also includes used car sales and an oil-change shop,

The collision center “kind of fits nicely” just east of the Muscatell Subaru showroom and service center, Muscatell said. “You either grow, or get out of the business.”

Collision repair is a growing business, according to Grand View Research. The U.S. auto collision repair market was estimated at $33.75 billion in 2018. It was expected to grow about 1.5% annually through 2025. However, that growth rate was expected to be disrupted by the global coronavirus pandemic.

The Muscatell family has been selling cars in the region for about 100 years, Muscatell said. He currently owns and is president of Muscatell Automotive Group, which includes Ward Muscatell Subaru, and Muscatell-Burns Ford in Hawley, Minn.

His wife, Deb, is the marketing director and vice president.

“We love being a dealer in Moorhead,” Muscatell said. “It worked out well for us.”