In 1979, the Pittsburgh Pirates won the World Series, Richard Petty won his sixth Daytona 500, and Ford began their “Built Ford Tough” advertising campaign. And in Fresno, California, a couple of Italian brothers started welding truck bodies together for local dealerships. Today – forty years later – the Pirates have never returned to the Series, King Richard won once more at Daytona before retirement, but Ford and Scelzi Enterprises have developed a deep, 40-year partnership based on an obsession with building premium quality truck chassis and custom truck bodies.
For Scelzi Enterprises, it began with a $20,000 loan from their father, Monroe Scelzi, who always dreamed his sons would work together. Oldest son Mike possessed an innovative and creative mind and talent for welding. He loved working on cars (still does) and when he convinced youngest brother Gary to join him (then 19), Scelzi Enterprises was born.
Mike and Gary have many fond and not-so-fond memories of the early days. Mike didn’t want to spend his time painting, so that became Gary’s main responsibility. “When we first started, we knew we couldn’t afford the fanciest new tools and equipment, but we weren’t going to build anything we wouldn’t want to own ourselves”, says Gary. “It was a challenge for us, but Mike has turned out to be ingenious in his welding techniques and body designs. He was very clever in designing some of our own production tooling and fixtures- some of which are still in use today.” Combined with Gary’s painting skills, the two brothers slowly began building a team of workers to help them as sales started to trickle in.
Gary took a break from the family business from 1997 to 2008, when he focused on a career in drag racing that led to four National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) World Championships during that span. Their middle brother Jim worked for their father Monroe until he retired in 2006, when Jim joined his two brothers at Scelzi Enterprises. He spent more than a decade there until his retirement from the business in 2017. Monroe passed away in 2013.
“We feel fortunate and very blessed, “adds Mike Scelzi, who survived a health scare in early 2018. “We are fortunate to live in the United States of America, where three hard working brothers can live out their dream. And we have been fortunate to work with some great dealerships and great pool and support people from Ford. It has not been easy, and being located in California certainly brings its own challenges for a manufacturing company. But Quality products are still honored in the United States, and a man’s word and promise are still valued. If you build something that works better, has more customer-valued features, and lasts longer than competing products, people DO notice. Ford has been a great partner in our success.”
Today, Scelzi Enterprises employs more than 400 truck body building professionals in California and Colorado, and has additional pool locations in Washington and Oregon. The brothers agree on their formula for success. “Win or lose, success or failure, we won’t cut corners or shortchange on Quality” insists Mike.
The Scelzi brothers have followed that strategy for 40 years.
They have no plans to change it.