Although a fairly recent addition to the Washington, Ill., business community, Martin Automotive actually has deep roots in this town of 13,000 near Peoria, Ill. It was at the repair shop’s current location on Washington Road that Randy Martin’s grandparents successfully ran a wholesale parts business until their retirement in the mid-1990s.
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As a child, Martin spent a lot of time there. As a teenager he started his career as a service tech on farm and fleet vehicles, learning and honing his skills at an area dealership. He then received a crash course in business acumen after he was hired to supervise a shop, which went belly up five years into his employment.
Despite witnessing this collapse, or perhaps even because of it, Martin felt empowered to go out on his own. Armed with advice from both sets of grandparents (the others had owned a small service station) and a bruising memory of what not to do, Martin opened his doors in November 2006. As he describes it, it was a “daunting task of being true to yourself and the people you do business with, without allowing the temptation of quick cash, low quality or ignoring true values to get in the way.”
But Martin has succeeded. Professing to being “fierce about education and training,” this ASE Master Technician insists on ASE training and testing. The first test is on the company, but should an employee fail, the next test is on them. And now they are an ASE Blue Seal shop.
Martin also takes advantage of learning experiences that arise within the shop. Should a vehicle come in with a problem a technician is unfamiliar with, rather than reassign it, he conducts an on-the-spot car clinic, coaching them through the repair. Online classes also are offered in the break room during off-hours. Besides ASE, further training and certifications are earned through CARQUEST’s Technical Institute, Ford’s Motorcraft and GM’s ACDelco.