Here in the USA we have passed the 1-year mark since COVID19 entered our lives, but the recent availability of vaccines and the declining infection rates have given us all some reasons for optimism. There seems to be light at the end of the tunnel – which we all hope and pray is not the headlight from a train! “Cautious optimism” seems to be growing for many of us.

Cautious optimism could also describe the tone set during many of the online Work Truck Show presentations at the virtual NTEA Show in early March. FORD announcements about electric vehicles, telemetry, enhanced vehicle security systems as well as commitment to cleaner air emission standards caused excitement for many of us as we carefully tread deeper into 2021. There seems to be a renewed sense of focus on the future. “It is exciting to see all the long-term investments Ford is making,” notes Scelzi Enterprises VP of Sales John Vernon. “Rather than following the herd, they are forging a new path. We all knew that electric vehicles would one day be part of our business, but it is sure nice to be at the forefront of the new frontier than scrambling to figure out how to react to someone else.”

The entire team at Scelzi Enterprises shares those sentiments, feeling very fortunate to have weathered the storm of 2020 as well as they did. Although taking nothing for granted, they do feel a bit more battle-hardened. In early March the company offered free COVID vaccination shots for all employees at the main facility in Fresno. At the same time they implemented a more elaborate Employee Referral Program for new employees, which rewards current team members to recommend friends and family to join the Scelzi team. Coming up next, a new assembly and production facility is scheduled to break ground near Bakersfield, Ca.  in early April. “We just need a bit more breathing room for our Fresno manufacturing units”, states Gary Scelzi. “And Bakersfield will give us a new talent pool to draw from for future truck-building professionals as well. By early 2022 we could have 100-150 employees operating from that location.”

As the Bakersfield operation gets ready to open in late Summer, there could be one or two more land and facility acquisitions completed by year’s end. Some of these projects were planned for 2020 but were delayed due to the uncertainty caused by COVID and the fear of a prolonged shutdown of Ford’s truck production lines. “We had expansion plans ready to roll in early 2020 but had to pump the brakes in Spring”, notes Scelzi. “Now we are resuming those plans again. We finished 2020 up over 10% in sales from 2019, which was not great by our standards. But given everything that happened, we are thrilled with those results, and thankful our team is coming out of it all as well as we have so far”.

For new product development, Scelzi likes to keep plans quiet, preferring to release news of their continuous truck body enhancements to dealerships and customers using a deliberate and low-key approach.  Earlier in 2021 the company released a newly designed gardener and landscaper body, making extensive use of the company’s recent investments in laser cutting machines to add artistic design to a sturdier, more rugged design for collecting and hauling leaves, branches, and other debris. Customer reaction so far has been very positive.

As Spring approaches and the weather conditions improve, construction jobs begin to increase, and that means more Dump Bodies and Water Trucks will be needed. Scelzi continues to perfect and expand their line of Dump bodies, from the smaller 3-4 cubic yard bodies on up to a new 21-foot, tag axle design now in development. These bodies will be built using the same Hardox® 450 option that is offered on other Scelzi Dump Bodies.  “I guess we could make our Dump Bodies tougher,” notes owner Mike Scelzi,” but only if we made them out of 2-inch thick steel! Of course, that would cause a weight problem we would have to deal with – until we came up with a solution for that, too.”  

Hoping to put COVID19 in their rear-view mirror, the team at Scelzi Enterprises is cautiously optimistic about Summer and Fall in 2021. From the view right now, the light at the end of the tunnel certainly appears to be sunlight.

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