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Friday, 18 January 2019 18:37

R/K Autobody's Owner Has Spent 40 Years Building Its Reputation in IL

Written by Lindsay Weber, Northwest Herald
Ron Koeller poses for a photo outside his business at R/K Autobody in Crystal Lake, IL. The auto body shop, owned by Koeller, is preparing for its 40th anniversary on Feb. 2. Ron Koeller poses for a photo outside his business at R/K Autobody in Crystal Lake, IL. The auto body shop, owned by Koeller, is preparing for its 40th anniversary on Feb. 2. Matthew Apgar

Index

For the last year and a half of his service in the Navy, Ronald L. Koeller was in charge of transferring oil from one ship to another, from tank to tank on his ship and the ballasting of the ship. He was known as the “Oil King.”

 

“I was always mechanically inclined,” Koeller said. “When I went into the service, I had a high score on my mechanical abilities test. It was my highest category of all the tests. When I was in the Navy, I was in the engineering department on the ship in the boiler division. My last year and a half in the Navy, I was the Oil King for the ship [and was] in charge of transferring oil from one ship to the other and [from] one tank to another on the ship.”

 

Koeller finished his service in May of 1956 and was bound for technical school. He also began working on used cars at a Buick dealership doing auto body repairs and paint work.

 

In 1979, Koeller opened R/K Autobody in Crystal Lake. Approaching its 40th anniversary on Feb. 2, R/K Autobody continues to serve local and Chicago-area customers from its 266 Prairie St. address.

 

“We have a very good reputation for quality and safe repairs,” Koeller said. “We have a good track record and very few complaints. When there is a customer concern about repairs, we address the issue and make sure we take care of it. We want to do a good job for our customers.”

 

At 86 years old, Koeller is not at the shop full-time, but said he doesn’t really consider himself retired just yet, as he still pops in to check on things.

 

“I’m not quite as quick as I used to be or as agile as I once was, but I’m still vertical and I can see a problem when I need to,” Koeller said.

 

The Crystal Lake resident lives with his second wife, Ellen Marie Richter, and enjoys spending time with his three children, 12 grandchildren and 15 great-grandchildren---soon to be 17, as two more are on the way. Koeller said he mostly has good days, but some are better than others.


Koeller’s granddaughter, Karen Nett, is the office manager for the shop, and her father-in-law, Jon Nett, is the manager and painter.

 

Karen credits the business’s longevity to quality and recommendations.

 

“The quality really gets transferred by word-of-mouth,” Karen said. “The big conglomerate shops don’t get to spend the time with the customer like we do. We are very much family-owned and independent, and we are able to give more attention to detail.”

 

Chuck Oslakovic is a resident of unincorporated McHenry County and has had R/K Autobody do some rear-end work on his Ford Explorer and Toyota RAV4. Oslakovic joked that he tries not to go to R/K too often with repair needs, but should an issue arise, he’s sure to visit Jon.

 

“Before I found them, I had some front-end damage and went to a repair place recommended by my insurance,” Oslakovic said. “Within two years, the hood on my truck had lost most of the paint they had applied. I was put on to Jon Nett’s place, and I like the fact that when I went there, I wasn’t met with a salesperson.

 

“I was talking directly to the person doing the work. Jon is a magician with a spray gun and, ultimately, the quality control. I think it’s a wonderful shop. You know what you’re getting going in, and he’s a really competent finisher.”

 

We thank Northwest Herald for reprint permission.

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