Written by The Business Journal Staff
Richard Filipe, CEO / President
What we do:
We help fleet owners keep their vehicles maintained with no hassle on their part. We install a GPS maintenance tracker with software we developed in-house. It’s installed in the vehicles so we can get real-time alerts. When a vehicle needs service, we get an alert and schedule the maintenance at their place of business, home or job site. Our system also allows for personnel managers to know what’s happening with company vehicles at all times — like fuel economy, driving behavior, check-engine lights, low battery warning, overheating problems, and much more. And good upkeep helps get owners the highest possible price when it’s time to sell their vehicles.
Education: Associate’s Degree in business, certified mechanic
Family: Married, one child
What sparked the idea for creating your business, Richard?
I grew up on a farm and had a very lucrative business in the ag industry. I was looking forward to building a new $500,000 house for my family when 2007 hit and most of my customers went out of business. As my income diminished, I let a lot of repairs go undone on my vehicles and equipment. When it came time to sell, I got very little for them. It got me to thinking about a vehicle maintenance business. I started out with a single truck and used technology to manage my schedule. Over time, I developed a one-of-a-kind system. It can be tailored to each customer’s needs. It’s like having a fleet manager and mechanic on staff, but without the cost.
How large of fleets are you currently servicing, Richard?
Our largest fleet has 600 vehicles that drive all over the Central Valley and beyond. Most of our accounts have two to seven vehicles.
Do you use traditional or “new” marketing techniques, Richard?
We rely on a combination of marketing techniques. Word-of-mouth is always best. In addition, we are developing our website and social media presence.
What surprises people the most about your business, Richard?
Even though we explain how our vehicle monitoring system works in real time, customers are still surprised when we call them when an unexpected repair is needed. For example, there have been times when a customer’s vehicle started running poorly, and we called them or sent an email explaining the problem before they could call us. One customer could not believe that we could do this without even being there. This saves so much time and hassle.
Where do you see your company ten years from now?
I plan to franchise this business and be nationwide. I already have my first franchise in Sacramento.
Anything else you would like to share, Richard?
In developing this business, I thought about what I would have wanted when I was in the ag business with respect to maintaining and preserving the value of my vehicles.
What do you like to do in your spare time, Richard?
Developing a startup is pretty intense, so I don’t have a lot of “spare” time. When I do, I spend it with my wife and son.
What was the best advice you ever received, Richard?
A wise and experienced friend said, “You don’t understand the meaning of business and money until you have done it yourself.” After 20 years of running my own business and then starting a new one, I’ve learned a lot in the school of hard knocks.
What are your roots in the Central Valley, Richard?
My family is in its fourth generation here in the valley. I grew up in Hanford.
What was your very first job growing up and what did you learn from it, Richard?
I was born and raised on a farm, so I had chores when I was very little. My first paying job was mechanicing in a shop. But I primarily learned how to work on the farm by driving equipment, irrigating, and fixing things in the shop. Farm work teaches you to be creative and think outside the box.