By Jamie McKenzie
After eight years of hard work, Karen Chevrier finally made her dream happen when she officially opened the doors of K & P Auto Body & Paint, an auto body garage in Kebaowek First Nation.
“I’ve always wanted to do my own business, I’ve had other ideas bouncing in my head and then I met my partner, who I eventually married, Paul, and he always wanted his own body shop,” said Chevrier.
After deciding on a body shop, the couple started the long process of getting their shop off the ground. The work began when they were still living in North Bay, Ontario. “We wanted to find an area that didn’t really have this type of service,” she said, so she suggested Kipawa.
“What I like about it, it’s a small community and it kind of worked with our proposal,” Chevrier said.
Once the decision was made to start their business in Kebaowek, Chevrier began the process to get their shop from an idea to a reality.
After putting together their ideas for the shop, Chevrier met with Kebaowek’s Director of Economic Development, Justin Roy, who put her in contact with some organizations in Quebec to help with the long process of opening their business. Phase one was answering questions about where they’ll be located, what they’ll be doing and how big the shop is going to be.
But with help, Chevrier finished everything she needed and the grand opening of K & P Auto Body & Paint was on March 9, 2023.
The shop officially opened on February 20, 2023 and Chevrier says it was a quiet opening but it’s been busy since then.
“Phenomenal. It’s the best way I can describe it,” said Chevrier. “People were coming up quite frequently, they were calling us at home… so we started putting together our clientele even before our grand opening.”
The business is still new but she says they’ve already had to hire some help to keep up with demand. “We want to give back, we want to take in younger people, we want to teach them the trade,” she said.
She says that supporting the local community is important to her and she hopes that when people see what she’s done, if anyone else wants to open their own business that they’ll go for it too.
“I’m hoping that it’s going to bring our community closer together and help support any business that’s happening,” said Chevrier.