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Sun Valley Fiber-Glas

Turner Turned From Production To Repair

By Carol L. Allen Carol L Allen

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.

Sun Valley Fiber-Glas in the early days of the Rock The Boat project. Sun Valley Fiber-Glas Rock The Boat

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.

Chris Craft Scorpion Being Rebuilt Rock The Boat Scorpion In Progress

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 entry.

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 months.

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.

Scorpion At ISE Rock The Boat Scorpion At ISE

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 "off season."

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 (480) 833-6508.


Copyright 2005 2015 Western Outdoor Times/Arizona Boating & Watersports. All Rights Reserved

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