Not long after Paul Naab of Chanhassen sold his machine tool sales company, when he was 80, he realized retirement was not for him.
Naab, the longtime owner of Naab Sales Corp., died of heart failure in Edina on Dec. 5. He was 82.
After he sold his namesake business, he started Tonka Sales Corp. "When Paul retired, he couldn't stand it," said his wife, Bev. "He went back to work right away, selling out of his house."
"He loved to solve problems, finding out what machine would work best for his customers," she said.
He grew up in Orono, living much of his adult life in the house of his childhood.
He was a star athlete in wrestling, track and football at Wayzata High School, graduating in 1944. Working at his family's hardware store near Lake Minnetonka, he learned about selling, operating a business and machinery.
During World War II, he attended colleges in a Navy program and received pilot training. He later graduated from the Minnesota School of Business and eventually went on the road as an insurance agent for Travelers.
Over the years, he wanted his own business and launched enterprises such as cattle-feeding, grain sales, boat lift and dock sales, and with his wife, a hunting-shirt manufacturing firm.
He began Naab Sales Corp. of Hopkins in the 1970s, and because the machinery is expensive and not always readily available, competitors often work together.
"He had a great spirit, and he was very interested in machine tools of all types," said Terry Carr of Eden Prairie, owner of Mark VI Machine Tool of Hopkins, adding that he learned a lot from Naab.
"He was a natural salesman," said Carr.
He told a story about selling snow blowers in Puerto Rico, a type that just might work for cleaning chicken coops.
"It was a teaching point, and it was humorous," said Carr. "It was his way of keeping an open mind and helping customers."
His daughter, Nan Anderson of Minnetonka, said customers and competitors often came to him for advice. She worked for the business as a saleswoman and office manager and said her father didn't point fingers when problems arose.
"He'd talk about correcting the problem and move on," she said.
In 2003, his son Peter was about to take over as head of Naab Sales when the plane he was piloting crashed after takeoff in northwestern Wisconsin. Peter and a friend were killed.
John Van Heuveln, who once worked for Nabb, bought Naab Sales Corp. two years ago, retaining the name.
"He was selling nearly to the day he died," said Van Heuveln. "That's what he loved to do."
Naab also had an active life outside work, enjoying hunting, fishing and snowmobiling.
He learned how to golf with his wife when they married 60 years ago. He won many club tournaments on his own and with his wife. In his prime, he had a seven handicap, but always had one regret in the game: "No hole in one," said his wife.
In addition to his wife and daughter, he is survived by his son Jeff of Coon Rapids and three grandchildren.
Services have been held.