Ty Safaryan immigrated to the United States with little more than a passion for auto body repair.

Today, Safaryan owns eight Fine Line Auto Body shops throughout central Ohio, including his newest that opened Dec. 2 at 2829 Bethel Road.

"I love the cars," he said. "I love the business."

The 14,000-square-foot storefront, which has enough bays for working on 25 cars at a time, takes over a site previously occupied by a gasoline station.

Safaryan said his employees are certified by nearly every major auto manufacturer, which provides an advantage for both his business and customers, given the rapid innovations in equipment and repair material.

"That's a huge deal," he said.

In 1995, shortly after moving to the U.S. from his native Armenia, Safaryan said he barely spoke the language.

He approached the owner of New Hopes Body & Collision Service in Newark, Ohio, for a job.

The owner, Arthur Tersaakov, was candid: He already had a full complement of employees and didn't need another one but Safaryan said he told him he could apprentice there -- without a wage.

"I'll do it anyway," Safaryan recalls telling Tersaakov. "I'll do it for free."

"He was learning to do that job," said Tersaakov, still the owner of New Hopes. "I said come in and I'll show you how to do it. He was a good learner. He picked up fast."

That same year, following two months of training at New Hopes, Safaryan opened his first Fine Line shop at 2940 S. High St. in the Southgate neighborhood.

Safaryan, now 44, said his passion for the business started in Armenia while he followed around his father, Rafael, an auto body repairman. Ty Safaryan moved to America with his mother, Irina; sister, Erna; and grandmother, Emma Akopyan. His father, who died in 2001, stayed overseas.

Safaryan of Galena also owns Twins Buick GMC, an auto dealership at 960 Morse Road in Columbus.

The company, named after his twin 4-year-old sons, Andy and Monte, is the site of the former Jeff Schmitt Buick GMC.

The building also houses a Fine Line Auto Body shop.

"I love my job so much," he said. "If somebody asked me to pay to go to work, I'd pay to go work."

gseman@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekGary