When Jake Lage opened Shining Armour Paint Correction & Auto Detailing as a part-time job in September, he finally found a career that he loved and was happy doing.
"I've always been into cars," he said, explaining how he got into this business. He tested out many different fields in college but never found one that fit. For the past 10 years, he's worked at a vehicle dealership in Perham, but "more and more (I) wanted to do it on my own."
Opening his own paint correction and auto detailing business has been in the back of his mind for the past five years. He researched the business and watched videos on YouTube about the process, "learning kind of on my own for the first few years," he said.
"I've had a Google Docs file for years where I've been planning this business in my head and planning it out," Lage said. "What I wanted to offer and how I wanted to word things."
At the end of the summer, Lage found a place that he could rent out and start his business. He shortened his hours at his full-time job and opened Shining Armour part-time, working on vehicles Friday through Sunday.
"It just happened to work out that I found the right place," he said. "I felt like I was ready to do it."
He already had the Shining Armour Paint Correction & Auto Detailing name picked. It was a new name choice, as there was a "dozen name" in Lage's Google Doc, but he said he could never pick one. The Shining Armour name came to him earlier this year, and he knew that was the one.
"It just made sense. 'Shining,' you want shiny, and 'armour,' my business is about protecting the vehicle as well so it kind of went together," he said. "(And) I really wanted the paint correction, even though it's a longer name, just because that's my favorite thing to do with a car."
Lage offers five different exterior packages, each focused on cleaning and protecting vehicle paint. The package prices vary depending on the size and condition of the vehicle. There are also two interior packages, refurbishing the seats, leather, and everything on the inside of the vehicles. Those packages vary, again, depending on the size and condition of the vehicle.
For the exterior work, the most in-depth package takes vehicles and permanently (if possible) removes as many imperfections as possible. These imperfections are commonly swirls and scratches on the paint. Lage uses special lighting to see all the swirls and other things to be fixed. He has another machine that reads the paint's thickness, which determines how much of the swirls and scratches he can safely get out.
Vehicles now have three paint layers with a clear coat on top -- in the past, vehicles didn't have that clear coat. Lage can't wear down too deep on that clear coat or else he may wear down the base coat, meaning the vehicle could lose its color.
"The clear coat is only about the thickness of your thumbnail," he explained. "So you have to be careful and know what you're doing."
Because of the layers, sometimes Lage can't safely get all scratches out of vehicles. But, he can make a definite difference in their appearance.
After fixing the imperfections and correcting paint, Lage isn't done with the vehicles. He boosts their gloss and shine, cleans the vehicles, and tops the paint with either a wax, sealant or ceramic hybrid for extra protection.
"Keeping the paint clean will make it last longer, keeping it protected will make it last longer, and then obviously it looks better," he said.
Since opening in September, Lage said that business has been slower.
"I think some people might just see the price and move on, not realizing what's being done here," he said, adding that he's still getting the word out that the business exists, too. Plus, some vehicles can take days to complete, and that timeline may be off-putting.
When he does get a new customer, Lage doesn't care about how clean or dirty their vehicle is. He actually likes the dirty vehicles "because the difference is more dramatic," he said. He recommends that people refrain from touching their vehicles, as even that is harmful for the paint, and that they hand-wash them instead of going through the car wash. Or, for the best results, let him give the vehicle a face-lift.
Hours: Monday-Saturday, contact for appointments
Location: 1608B Dan St.