As fuel crises forced up the price of gas back in the ‘70s, GM blithely converted some of its standard V-8s to more efficient diesel burners. It was an engineering and marketing disaster. Head gaskets blew, fuel pumps failed, and within a couple years these misbegotten cars were just another bad memory in a growing list.
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“They did put a ding in the diesel market,” recalls Dean Rue. “It gave diesels a stigma with the general public.” As the owner of Orangevale Diesel he should know, but fortunately his specialty is the diesel pickup truck market, which has done nothing but
|Owners: Dean & Shelbie Rue|
|Location: Orangevale, Calif.|
|No. of Locations: 1|
|Years in Business: 25|
|No. of Employees: 5|
|No. of Techs: 3-4|
|Shop Size/Bays: 5,000 square feet/8|
|Annual Gross Revenue: $950,000|
grow over the past 25 years since he started his shop near Sacramento, CA—to Rue’s knowledge, “the longest independently owned [facility] of its kind in Northern California.”
California’s capital has close to two and a half million people in its metropolitan area, and Rue pulls from that entire region—and beyond. “I’ve got customers over in the [San Francisco] Bay area, Vacaville, Napa,” he reports. “I’ve got other customers that come down from Reno. The other day I had a guy come down for transmission service and it turned out the power steering lines were leaking. He came down from Truckee, about a two hour drive. It was raining and snowing over the summit, but he was here at 8:00 in the morning. It was the first time he’d ever been here; he’d heard good things about us.”
Such is Orangevale Diesel’s reputation, which Rue recently expanded to social media. “I did that on my own at first,” he explains. “Then we contracted out with the phone company. (Clients) might hear about us through word of mouth, and then they’ll get on their phone and Google us to get a review or find out a little bit more about us. It’s definitely the way things are going.”
Reputation gets customers in the door, but Rue says it’s also about making people feel comfortable by understanding where they‘re coming from. “You build trust by giving undivided attention. Let them finish their sentences so they don’t think you’re a know-it-all. You listen to them, give them some options so that they feel in the loop.