Retiring from the oil field and rebuilding their life on the gulf coast, owners Chuck and Ashley Otwell first opened the doors to Otwell’s Extreme Motorsports in 2017, moving to their current location in Pensacola, FL from Fort Walton Beach in 2018.
“Having traveled all over the country for their careers, they have met people from all walks of life,” said OEM technician Kristen Lassen. “Being bred from Southern roots, they deemed the Gulf Coast as the perfect blend of old-fashioned ‘good folks.’ The whole family contributes to the dealership, from Chuck and Ashley’s two sons, to their ‘pops’ — and everyone who has since became family over the years.”
Growing up with a desire to go fast, the passion for powersports, from quads to sport bikes, was passed along to Chuck’s two teenagers, so naturally, he wanted to create a business that felt like home.
“The highlights of my job here at OEM are that I have access to a wealth of knowledge and get to work in an atmosphere that feels like home,” Lassen said. “We accept motorcycles dating far beyond when I was conceived, and I get to learn a vast array of skills in order to bring these motorcycles back to life. I am currently working with the other technicians to build a 1976 Shovelhead chopper from the ground up in our off hours, so it’s really a great bonding and skill building experience for us here at the shop.”
While most of the world is stuck at home, the OEM family is hard at work, deemed an “essential” business, according to federal guidelines amid the coronavirus outbreak in April.
“The world is built off of people who are essential to the success of us all, from grocery workers to truck drivers,” Lassen said. “We are absolutely proud to be a part of essential businesses that are contributing to our area locally and abroad. We pride ourselves in being available to the community in a time of need in order to maintain transportation and some sort of normalcy during this pandemic.”
Seeing consistency in the sales and service side of the dealership, the COVID-19 pandemic may have helped create more motorcycle sales.
“When you think of social distancing, you think of ‘living free.’ The whole mechanism of riding a motorcycle is rooted in social distancing; you can get away and be in your own world for a while. It might have inspired folks to get out and ride,” Lassen said. “We carry the largest selection of pre-owned motorcycles here on the Gulf Coast, so we have been seeing quite the influx of inquiries via online applications, phone calls and door swings.”
With under 10 employees, OEM is strictly following CDC guidelines to keep employees and customers safe.
“We have always wanted our customers to be interactive with the service technicians in the shop, but during the pandemic, we have had to limit the amount of customers entering the service bay,” Lassen said. “One of our older technicians has a daughter with ALS, so we have set him up to work from his personal shop and we provide delivery/pickup of motorcycles and parts so that he can continue working and provide for his family and community without the risk of getting sick.”
Holding true to their family values, the team at OEM stands by their customers, which helps them ultimately stand out from the competition.
“We know that we will never be perfect, no one is,” Lassen explained. “But, in times of adversity, true character and integrity shines, and we pride ourselves in always choosing to do what is right and taking care of our customers to the best of our abilities.”