Sun Valley Fiber-Glas
Turner Turned From Production To Repair
By Carol L. Allen
Credit Dawny Pack
Dan Turner came from the Arkansas/Missouri area in 1987.
He had started there in fiberglass manufacturing, which he
did for about 10 years. Turner made just about everything,
including waterslides, and was one of a few not employed in
a farm-related business.
That was Act 1. Setting the stage for Act 2 for Turner
was a request for him to do some repair work back home. His
normal fee for manufacturing fiberglass items in 1985 was
$12/hour, but he found that doing repairs was bringing some
companies $48/hour, four times what Turner charged for
manufacturing fiberglass products. This got him to thinking
about a change.
At about the same time, Turner’s uncle crashed his race
car. He asked his nephew if he could repair it. Turner said
he could, but, in the meantime, the uncle had it fixed in
Arizona for around $6,000. Turner said he would have done it
for $600. The lights of change were flashing.
Adding to this were his uncle’s stories about the
upcoming development of Lake Pleasant "out there" in Arizona
and about the probability that there would be a huge
increase in boating — and, of course, the need for repairs.
So, the Turners moved into Act 3: a move to Arizona and
the beginning of Sun Valley Fiber-glas, Inc. nearly 20 years
ago. Turner has never looked back.
Sun Valley Fiberglas does "everything but the mechanical
part" of repairs, mostly of boats, says Turner. He only
considers other repairs, for example of an RV, if the owner
is also the boat owner.
Turner guarantees his work for the life of the boat, and
if a customer does need to bring something back for more
work, he or she will not experience long waits; service is
done quickly on previous repairs.
Other customers are taken on a first-come, first-served
basis; Turner has found that appointments and scheduling are
not practical. Some jobs are labor-intensive and take longer
than others (e.g., color-matching can take two hours or two
days). Also, there are some repairs that can be done while
others are in progress.
Turner has some sound advice for boat owners. One is to
consider what should and should not be "repaired."
Some owners will call him for just a minor scratch,
something that is only a small cosmetic concern; Turner
advises that the labor-intensive gelcoat repair is not
needed for that. He suggests repair only when there is
damage of some depth or a hole that could result in water
Turner likens this reasoning to someone who wants
cosmetic surgery just because he or she has some natural
wrinkling from aging. The "repair" is really not needed —
just more surface care.
And, surface care for a boat is wax. Turner reminds boat
owners that there is no such thing as "wax buildup" in
Arizona; it melts too quickly in our heat and sun.
Therefore, maintenance can be done with the least
expensive wax (e.g., a liquid spray wax); as long as three
coats are applied correctly, it should last about three
The process Turner recommends is to apply a coat of wax,
let it set for one hour, then take it off. This should be
repeated for a total of three times.
He explains that, under a microscope, gelcoat looks like
a sponge and takes in the wax accordingly. Using a heavy,
viscous wax is not necessary and is even discouraging as it
is so hard to remove in between applications.
Turner also advises that there be UVC protection within
the boat cover itself. So, when a customer asks him how long
will a boat’s gloss last, Turner replies that it depends on
whether or not the craft is kept in a garage out of the sun
or on how well the wax-maintenance is kept up.
Sun Valley Fiberglas is a busy place, and the demand for
Turner’s services come from two distinct groups of boat
owners: recreational boaters — who begin going to the lake
with their families on Memorial Day weekend and put the boat
away right after Labor Day when the kids go back to school —
and the bass boat owners who ready for the fishing action
just after Labor Day.
Consequently, Turner is busy almost all year, and if a
customer wants something special such as a unique paint job,
he or she should probably approach Turner during the short
Family members are also involved in Sun Valley Fiberglas:
Turner’s wife Judy does some upholstery work and some boat
work, and his son Jon, 16, has been in the shop for about a
year, learning about repairs.
The Turners like to vacation in San Felipe, Mexico, which
they try to visit as often as possible.
Sun Valley Fiberglass is located at 925 S. Center in Mesa
and can be contacted by phone at (480) 833-6561 or by fax at
You may reach Arizona Boating and Watersports at:
480/947-6219 or 619/523-3091
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