Allen Martinez, Collision Center Manager: A Prestige Profile
Prestige Imports Welcomes Allen Martinez
Allen Martinez recently became the new Manager of the Prestige Imports Collision Center. While he might be new to the dealership, Martinez is no stranger to the Denver area. A Colorado native, he was born and raised in the Mile High City. Of his hometown, he says: “I like the people. I like the climate. You have pretty much everything here but the ocean; although,” he quips, “the ocean was never really a big factor for me.”
Most recently an Assistant Manager for BodyWorks (which is a BMW repair facility in Denver), Martinez brings, literally, a lifetime of repair and restoration experience in the Denver-area to Prestige Imports.
To welcome Allen into the Prestige family, we sat down and talked about his love for cars and his career in the automotive industry.
A Young Man and his Cars
“I’ve always been a Car Guy,” Martinez says, “especially Muscle Cars.” Of his first interactions with cars, he mentions: “When I was a kid, my older brother was a MoPar guy. He owned Road Runners and Challengers. So, I kind of got the fever when I was a young kid and stayed with it.” After catching “car fever,” it wasn’t too long before Martinez was on the lookout for his own set of wheels.
“My first car,” he recalls, “was a 1969 Dodge Dart Swinger.” He first saw the vehicle sitting in his neighbor’s front yard. After noticing that it had remained unattended for some time, he walked across the street to find out its story. “My neighbor had purchased the car for his daughter,” Martinez remembers, “but she didn’t want it.” In fact, he says, his neighbor “didn’t even know if it ran. He gave me the keys, and I tinkered with it. It didn’t run, so he sold it to me for $500; then I dragged it across the street.”
The next step on his journey into the world of cars, then, was to get his newly purchased Dart running. In order to do so, he befriend another neighbor who was a retired Chrysler employee and former Auto Shop instructor. “Together, we tore that car down and got it to run,” he says. And that was the “spark” that ignited his interest in the automotive industry.
His Dart, though, was only the first of many cars that he purchased and restored. “When I was younger, before I had children, I owned a number of different Muscle Cars. For me, that was my peak [car] time.”
When recalling all the vehicles he’s worked on, Martinez says that the one he remembers most fondly was a 1968 Plymouth Road Runner. “It was a convertible. A big block, four-speed, which they didn’t manufacture a lot of. They made less than 30 in that color-combination (i.e. B5 Blue with white interior). And it was air-conditioned, which was rare.”
Although he says that he wishes he hadn’t sold the car, he doesn’t have any regrets. “I ended up selling [those cars] and buying a house” and having children, which enabled him to build a new life and different memories. As the father of four daughters, he, no doubt, has plenty of those memories stored up: “I enjoy working with my children,” he says, “Making sure they’re productive citizens and get what they need to be nurtured.”
A Lifetime in the Automotive Industry
Just as his love of restoring, repairing, and driving cars started at an early age, so too did his career in the automotive industry. When he was a kid, Martinez “pestered and bugged” another neighbor who owned a body shop for a job. Eventually, “he gave me the opportunity to work for him during the summertime. I started by sweeping floors, changing light bulbs, cleaning bathrooms, as well as scraping and removing undercoating.” Those humble beginnings would transform into more prestigious positions.
One of his first professional jobs was that of a painter. “I worked on the line,” Martinez notes, “as a production and custom painter. I did that for twelve years, then I started my own facility.” Of his venture into ownership, he says: “It was a very small [business], geared toward fabrication and custom stuff. Which, I guess, is kind of the dream for any Car Guy: you want to build Muscle Cars and restore cars.”
After running his own fabrication company, Martinez briefly left the automotive industry. During this period, he owned an HVAC company. The allure of cars, though, never waned for Martinez; and he eventually returned to the industry, opening an independent facility on the west side of Denver with some family members. “From there,” he recalls, “I ended up at BodyWorks and stayed there for a number of years. Eventually, I left BodyWorks with my Director and went to Kuni; together, we turned that program around, and I became General Manager of the Collision Center.” Then he returned to BodyWorks before arriving at Prestige Imports.
What it Means to Work in Collision, What it Means to be a Manager
With so many years of experience spent in a number of different contexts and companies, Martinez has learned quite a bit about what it means to work in the automotive industry, as well as what makes a good manager.
As far as working within the Collision and Repair niche of the car business, he says: “Well, for me, it’s about restoring something back to the way it was beforehand. Being able to see a vehicle in pieces on a truck, and then it leaves [the body shop] like it hasn’t been in an accident: there’s something gratifying in that transformation from a technician’s standpoint.”
But more than just the transformative aspects of working in collision and repair centers, Martinez notes that “When I was a painter, I took a lot of pride in what I did. There was always a sense of accomplishment when you can step back and say: ‘I did that.’ And you also get to work on some cool cars. That’s always fun: to see the industry’s Latest and Greatest.”
Martinez argues that to be a successful manager, one must be “a good leader and communicate well.” Likewise, a good manager needs to understand that his or her employees are people who also exist outside of the shop: “You never know what’s going on in their lives. You have to consider that something can be happening on a certain day” that has nothing to do with work, so “you need to react to certain scenarios with a The Big Picture in mind.” This, of course, doesn’t mean that anything goes. A successful manager also must be “strong, in the sense that you hold people accountable for their job and what they’re supposed to do.”
Visit the Collision Center at Prestige Imports and Say Hello to Allen
While we at Prestige Imports hope you never have to worry about a damaged vehicle, Allen Martinez and his team at the Prestige Imports Collision Center will offer you superior customer service and restore your vehicle to like-new condition if you do. Of course, you don’t need to demolish your car to stop by the Collision Center to say “Hello” to Allen. The facility is located at 1590 Dover Street, Lakewood, CO 80215, just a few blocks away from the dealership. You also can call them at (303)238-7391.