MERRILLVILLE | With a combined 50 years in the vehicle collision repair business, Kevin Mehok senior and junior took the risk starting their own business and the venture is paying off.
“CrashCo Collision Centers has been a lifelong dream,” said Kevin Mehok Jr. “My dad and I have spent our whole lives in the collision repair business. We tried for three or four years before we opened here and finally got the opportunity to make it happen.”
The Mehoks had been scouring Northwest Indiana for a location when the site of a former Saab dealership became available. The 20,000-square-foot building had the room and access onto U.S. 30 that they wanted.
“We have a lot of contacts in insurance because of our experience so we were able to get work as soon as we opened the doors,” said Mehok Jr., of Crown Point. “The Region’s really accepted us.”
He credits the success of the business to the way each vehicle brought in for restoration is watched and inspected at each step of the repair process.
“We guarantee our work, the quality of our work and our eye for each detail,” Mehok Jr. said. “It’s a combination of experience and our own ideas we employ. We assign each car and go over it with the technician. It doesn’t move from one area in the process to the next until it is inspected.”
Crash Co. Collision Centers uses all state-of-the-art equipment and factory-trained technicians. Plus, it features an on-site car rental company, complimentary shuttle service, and free Wi-Fi service in its large waiting room, Mehok Jr. said.
It also uses all ecofriendly products, including using paint from Sherwin Williams’s line of water-based automotive finishes, and has a proprietary 24-hour, repair service for vehicles that qualify.
“We find the fastest way without compromising quality to get a car back to its owner,” Mehok Jr. said.
The father and son have invested millions of dollars into Crash Co. Collision Centers through a combination of saving and bank loans. The site costs $2.5 million and its renovation and equipment about doubled that amount.
Yet business has been so good that they already are preparing to expand.
“Our growth has been explosive,” Mehok Jr. said. “We didn’t expect to become this busy so soon. We expected it to take five to six years for this volume, not two years. ... At the rate it’s going probably in five years to recover our investment.”
Expansion could come as soon as 18 months, he said. They are looking at one site in Naperville, an area familiar to the senior Mehok, who lives in Orland Park. The other site, which the Mehoks won’t disclose, is in Northwest Indiana.
“My father and I want to become a multi-location business and continue to grow in this area,” Mehok Jr. said. “The insurance companies that send us work tell the markets where they have the greatest need and those are the ones we wish to fulfill.”
Mehok said although there are a lot of collision repair shops there is always a need for a quality business.
“There’s a lot of McDonald's, but only one Gamba’s, and I’m proud to be a Gamba’s,” Mehok Jr. said. “We don’t want hundreds of outlets. We want strategically placed locations that put out a quality product.”