SIDNEY — BodyShop Business, a publication that caters to the approximately 40,000 collision repair shops in the United States, named Miami County business owner Tom Martin its executive of the year.
“I got a phone call, and I thought I heard them wrong,” said Martin, the owner of Sidney Body CARSTAR, Troy CARSTAR and Piqua CARSTAR. “I had no idea that I was even in the running for it or even received it. It was quite an honor.”
Martin, who is featured on the cover of the October issue of BodyShop Business, was named the magazine’s multi-shop executive of the year while Tony Adams, general manager and partner of Weaver’s Auto Center in Shawnee, Kansas, was named the single-shop winner.
“Tom Martin was chosen as one of our Executives of the Year because of three things: his business savvy and leadership in the market, and also giving back to the collision industry and his surrounding community,” Jason Stahl, editor of BodyShop Business, said. “He worked his way up from the bottom, leads his employees by example and is a model for what a collision repair facility owner should be.”
While he’s now recognized as one of the leaders in the collision repair industry, Martin’s career started with humble beginnings. In 1979, at age 15, he and a friend were hired to paint the exterior of what was Sidney Body Shop.
After they finished painting, the boys begged then-Sidney Body Shop owner Roy Stone for jobs. They washed cars and cleaned up, whatever needed to be done.
“They hired me to paint the outside of the building, and I never left,” Martin said.
The Sidney High School graduate worked his way up the ladder at Sidney Body Shop and bought the business from Stone, whom he described as like a father to him, in 2002. He soon found he knew how to repair cars but needed help with running the business, which prompted him to join the CARSTAR network in 2003.
“I knew I needed help,” he said. “I needed to go to school.”
With the help of CARSTAR, Martin has been able to expand his business. In 2004 he broke ground and built what is now the home of Sidney Body CARSTAR.
In 2014, he built Troy CARSTAR then in 2018 he bought the former Dick’s Paint & Body Shop, transforming it into Piqua CARSTAR.
His favorite thing about working in the collision repair industry is the opportunity to help people, who often come to his shops stressed about a recent crash.
“I like to be able to supply that help and make a negative experience into a positive experience,” Martin said.
As part of his mission to help others, Martin’s shops participate in the National Auto Body Council Recycled Rides program, which fixes up cars and donates them to veterans. The Dayton VA screens and chooses veterans for the program, an insurance company supplies the cars, and Martin and his staff supply the labor to get the vehicles ready for the road.
Martin also seeks to hire veterans and has three working for him.
“We’re just giving back,” he said. “They gave so much so we’re just trying to do our little part to give back.”
Additionally, Martin gives back by serving as an adviser to the auto body program at Upper Valley Career Center. A 1982 graduate of UVCC, Martin has had students from the school co-op for him since 2002, including two this year.
“I love to do that. It just builds up my workforce,” said Martin, who has 36 employees across his three shops.
Martin also has been active as a columnist for BodyShop Business, writing a monthly column for the past three years that has become one of the publication’s most popular. His goal for the column is to leverage his experience to help others.
“It’s just my nature to help. If I can help somebody, I definitely want to help them,” Martin said. “People help me everyday so I just want to pass it along.”
In a normal year, Martin would have been invited to a ceremony in Las Vegas to honor him as executive of the year. However, because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the recognition will be virtual this year.
“It’s awesome that other people are recognizing what we do,” Martin said. “We’re still going to be us.”