752 20th Ave., Paterson NJ 07504
T: 973-278-1444  F: 973-278-8332
*Button colors represent most popular light truck/SUV colors, in order of popularity starting from the top. — DuPont Automotive systems 2008 Global Color Popularity Report
February 2009

Fixing the Big Hits at Valtek

PATERSON, N.J.: As you drive up the road to Valtek Inc., it looks like an ordinary collision repair shop. But when you proceed past the front office and into the shop area, you're overwhelmed by the shop's vastness. You begin to feel small as you look up at the high ceilings and approach the mammoth heated downdraft spraybooth.

Outside the booth stands a truck freshly painted dark blue, with its sister vehicle nearby wearing the old colors—black and white. Inside the booth, a technician is up on a stepladder prepping a fuel tanker for repainting, while another technician is nearby sectioning a panel on a U.S. Postal Service truck.

On each side of the shop, there are several trucks parked at an angle similar to the parking lot of a shopping mall. And, on the far side, close to the main opening of the shop, stands one of New Jersey's red fire trucks, with its door and cab ripped open from a collision with another fire engine.

This 20-bay, 15,000 sq. ft. shop is equipped to handle repairs and complete refinishing for any size truck. They can also do a stray car for a customer.

The Paterson shop, which labels itself "the truckbody shop," is guided by the motto "Value Through Technology"—hence the name, Valtek.

Valtek prides itself on quality service at a good value with quick turnaround. "With a commercial customer, the number of days a vehicle is not in service is measured in dollars, so we can't afford not to give them good turnaround," explains Brian Vesley, president of Valtek, Inc. He adds that the shop has to make an extra effort to educate its customers because some discount, mass car painters advertise low prices for paint jobs. Valtek explains that if the customers spend less, then they receive a different quality.

Another thing that makes Valtek different is that the shop sends out a sales rep to constantly promote the shop's services and attract new customers. Vesley's regular customers, who come from New Jersey and parts of New York, include: Amerada Hess, Federal Express, the U.S. Postal Service, Garafano/Steelfab, Suburban Propane, Loomis Fargo, Absolute Fire Equipment Sales and the New York City Fire Department. However, he says, having regular customers does not guarantee his shop work. Some of their customers "check up on them" to see if Valtek is giving a fair enough bid, and they will go to a different vendor to see if they can get a better deal. But, Vesley says, they usually come back to Valtek. He estimates that he has to compete with about four major players in the truck repair business within a 25-mile radius of his shop.

Abandoning Law

So what made him decide to get involved in this complicated, cutthroat world of truck repair work? Complicated and cutthroat were already part of Vesley's vocabulary: before opening his business in the early '90s, he was a corporate lawyer. After endless discussions, Vesley decided to quit practicing corporate law to start a truck business from scratch with his brothers. "I liked being a businessman. I just didn't like having to be a businessman practicing law," Vesley says.

"We wanted to develop a niche market, and we thought there were not a lot of people in the truck body repair business," he says. Vesley already had the management experience, and whatever experience he didn't have, his two brothers, Bruce and Dennis, did.

Dennis Vesley, vice president of sales for Valtek, has been in the collision repair business for 25 years. He does most of the estimating and promotes the shop as its sales rep. Bruce Vesley, vice president of production for Valtek, has run a major repair/service facility for a forklift company, in addition to his autobody experience. Bruce manages the activities in the shop while Brian does the business planning and financial analysis. The family business doesn't end there: his wife, Cackie Scott, is the office manager. In addition, the shop employs two painters, a foreman, four bodymen, six technicians, and a person responsible for cleanup.

Overcoming the Challenges

To work on these trucks, Vesley sometimes employs technicians from the autobody industry as they already have the basic repair skills. The skills that they don't have, the staff at the shop teaches them, says Vesley.

Vesley continues to stay one step ahead of the competition by being active in various trade associations. He has no plans to relax just yet. He is looking for more ways to outdistance his competitors by increasing business by 50 percent. He is even contemplating opening a second location, or possibly increasing productivity by adding a second shift. Vesley realizes this will be no small task, but compared to starting a truck repair business, it will be a walk in the park.

Automotive Body Repair News, Sept. 1997. Reprinted by permission.