Kelly’s keeps fleets on the road with parts availability and fabrication
San Leandro, Calif.—Kelly Green, owner of Kelly’s Truck Repair in San Leandro, said light-, medium- and heavy-duty truck repair requires a back-to-basics approach for mechanics and a penchant for problem solving.
“We work on all types of trucks, equipment, buses, cranes, and the equipment mounted on them. We identify the problem, get the parts, and repair it. If we can’t get a part, our machinists will repair or fabricate it. For some of the specialized equipment we work on there are no manuals or reference schematics. In these cases we have the experience and the know-how to perform the diagnostics and make the repairs
From basic service to complete engine rebuilding, Kelly’s does it all in-house, he said. “Over the years we have accumulated a lot of equipment and resources, including a complete machine shop and a hydraulic shop. We can also do in-frame engine rebuilds with our equipment, including engine block boring.”
Kelly said 80 percent of the work is on the trucks themselves and the other 20 percent is on the equipment bolted to it. “We are devoted to being a full-service, one-stop general truck repair shop since I opened in 1971. We also do body and fender repair, and have a Bee Line frame straightening rack.”
The facility sits on four acres and has 30,000 square feet of shop space. Kelly has 30 employees, including 18 mechanics, four service advisors, four parts specialists, two office staff, a service manager, five master technicians, and 10 service trucks for service calls and on-site repairs.
“Parts are the biggest challenge,” he said. There are a lot of parts coming from out of state and overseas, and manufacturers don’t warehouse in California like they did 20 years ago, which is why we fabricate parts when necessary. These trucks cost big money every day they are down, so we constantly look at repair cost versus downtime. Parts availability is critical to keeping fleets on the road.”
To help keep jobs flowing, Kelly’s has its own well-stocked parts department with 80,000 part numbers on the shelf to service the needs of customers, he said. To that end, Kelly’s is open 16 hours, five days a week, and all day Saturday. “These guys need their trucks on the road and we are there to help six days a week, weekdays from 5:30 a.m. ’til midnight,” Kelly said.
Training and technical support comes predominantly from manufacturers of trucks, engines, transmissions and electrical parts, Kelly said. “We also have manufacturer Internet support as well from Mitchell 1, AllData, Bendix, NAPA and more.”
He said powertrain is an area in which Kelly’s excels. They have extensive vehicle service equipment and the well-trained staff can either install remanufactured units or rebuild them in house. Rebuilding engines, transmissions, and rear ends is fairly common, Kelly said, adding that fleets tend to repair rather than replace, and most fleet trucks go hundreds of thousands of miles before they are replaced.
Kelly’s is an authorized State of California Certified Gasoline Smog, Diesel Opacity and Brake & Lamp Test Station, as well as a NAPA- and Jasper-authorized repair shop, he said.
Kelly said many problems lie in computer control systems. “They use very low voltage, and at times when the system fails to store trouble codes, it makes problems very difficult to diagnose and fix.
“A small drop in voltage, or ground problems, can cause problems with a variety of systems, making the source of the issue hard to track down. You must have the technical skill and proper diagnostics equipment in order to repair the trucks and trailers of today. It is the biggest challenge I’ve seen in my 40 years in the business. When it comes down to it, I’m sure the old mechanical systems were more cost effective and much cheaper to repair,” Kelly said.
The economy has brought additional attention to the cost of repair. “Before they only wanted to know how long it was going to take to repair the truck. The changing times now requires us to provide estimates, so we employ several full-time estimators, as well as a sales manager to look after our customers’ interests.
“In our field, experience is vital. Besides myself, my sales manager, Rick Hart, Estimator Billy Maffey, Parts Manager Terry Stewart and Service Advisors Stan Saar, Tami Wing and Richard Gonzales all have more than 40 years of experience. Our staff knows our customers and the equipment we service,” he said.
Kelly’s offers tow service, which allows it to get equipment off the road, out of the yard, and into the shop. “You have to be able to service the customer,” Kelly said. “Having recovery equipment has been very helpful.
“I have great people and we give customers a good bang for their buck. I am fortunate enough to supply 30 people and their families a good living from an industry that has supported me for more than 40 years, and I thank every one of them every day. I look forward to stepping back and having my controller, Amine Filal, take the reins over in the next couple of years.”