Owners Shawn and Shawna Martin opened OKC as a fabrication shop in 2003, which they quickly outgrew. The current location has helped the business grow exponentially, and now it will move into a new, larger 44-bay facility.Technician Frank Romano II performs a post-scan on a Ford Mustang GT.Owner Shawn Martin demonstrates the importance of having the Matrix Wand 3-D blueprint machine and software. Every part of the car is blueprinted.1956 F-1001949 Mercury1969 Camaro1939 Ford1933 Fords1972 Bronco

The push for proper OEM repairs

OKC Autobody is diligent in requesting OEM repair authorizations from insurance companies

Sparta, Ill.—“If you don’t ask, it won’t happen.”

That’s what Shawn Martin, owner of OKC (Overkill Custom) Autobody, says is key to making sure insurance companies don’t run your shop.

“You would not believe how many times I have had to ask some companies before they finally agree to certain repairs. What you must think about is that you may be the only one to ask them for approval and if you assume that someone else is pushing them, you would be mistaken.”

OKC takes pride in knowing that the work they do is going to keep a customer safe after the vehicle leaves their shop, Martin said. “We don’t cut corners here. In fact, some may say what we do is a little bit of overkill, hence the name, but we feel it’s necessary.”

Performing pre- and post-scans, using a Matrix Wand 3-D blueprinting system, and becoming an I-CAR Gold Class shop are just a few of the ways OKC holds to their business model of customer and safety first.

“Pre- and post-scans are absolutely necessary, even if the insurance company doesn’t want to pay for them. We’ve taken a hit, sure, when paying for those diagnostics, but if that ensures that we don’t miss anything, then it is money well spent,” Martin said.

When a vehicle is brought into OKC for repairs, the first step is a blueprint. “The Matrix Wand is, by far, one of the best investments we have made. It’s 100-percent accurate and it also helps verify repairs on the backend,” he said.

Prior to having the Matrix Wand, blueprinting each vehicle was time consuming and often cost prohibitive. Tearing down each vehicle to find hidden damage consumes valuable time on the frame machine, labor, and shop floor space, Martin added. “We believe that having this piece of equipment is what separates us from other local shops.

“Being an I-CAR Gold Class shop has also put us in a class ahead of the competition. Only 10 percent of collision repair shops currently meet the training requirements that I-CAR sets. It really is the industry standard when it comes to customer satisfaction and safety and we are proud to be affiliated.”

Hanging on the shop bulletin board is a copy of an article on the John Eagle Autobody lawsuit, which is a reminder to Martin that a customer’s safety should always be put ahead of insurance company’s recommendations.

In the lawsuit, a couple crashed their 2010 Honda Fit and the extent of their injuries was said to be in part to hail damage repairs done by John Eagle Collision Center. Experts for the plaintiffs successfully argued that the severity of the couple’s injuries were due in large part to the body shop adhesive-bonding the Fit’s roof during an $8,500 hail repair. The repair was not in line with Honda’s OEM repair procedures, which demand a shop tack-weld the front and rear corner edges of the new roof before performing two- and three-plate spot welds and MIG plug welds.

“OEM repair recommendations exist for a reason,” Martin said. “If the insurance company wants to cut corners and go around the OEM repairs, that is just not acceptable. We stand behind OEM procedures and that lawsuit is a huge reminder of why we stand our ground to the insurance companies.”


Expanding to new facility in 2018

OKC, which opened in 2003, quickly outgrew its first location in Steelville, Ill., and moved to the current location in Sparta in 2004, where the shop has become one of the busiest in the region, he said. “My first year, we did $200,000 and now we are doing more than $2,000,000.”

That is why Shawn and his wife, Shawna, have decided to upgrade once again. OKC will be moving to a brand-new facility in early 2018 with new equipment, 44 operating bays, and a new business opportunity.

“We’re adding powersports and RV repairs to our new facility. That market is huge in our area and we are looking forward to building another successful business within our existing one.”

OKC is also a NAPA AutoCare Collision Center, which provides the shop with discounts and allows customers to have the peace of mind in knowing that NAPA will honor a nationwide warranty on repair parts they provide. Auto Tire and Parts, the local NAPA, also provides the shop with Axalta paint.

OKC started out as a fabrication shop and still does some custom hot rod work as well. “We have done several cars for St. Louis Cardinal Players and still enjoy doing the custom jobs today,” he said. “We don’t do as many as we would like to, but it still provides for some awesome opportunities.”

Parts & People

Parts & People is published monthly by Automotive Counseling and Publishing Company, Inc., a Colorado corporation, P.O. Box 18731 Denver, CO 80203, 303-765-4664. President-Lance Buchner. Founded by Lance Buchner and Dave Lucia.