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Alfredo Garcia, Watsonville Diesel

Winner, 2014 Faces of Entrepreneurship award

Alfredo Garcia receives the 2014 Face of Entrepreneurship award from Carmen Herrera-Mansir of El Pajaro CDC and Tyler Blackney from Representative Alejo's office.

Alfredo Garcia (pictured right with Carmen Herrera-Mansir of El Pajaro CDC and Tyler Blackney from Representative Alejo’s office) has an impressive resume of 20 years when it comes to the diesel trucking industry.

  • He started at Harnell College where he studied diesel technology,
  • He graduated to Salinas Valley Ford at 22.
  • After two years he took advantage of a better opportunity at International in Watsonville; they have shops and dealer in a few dozen states and Mexico. He worked there for four years.
  • He spent eight years at Monte Vista Christian School in Watsonville taking care of their transportation needs, the fleet, and any license needs for school bus drivers.

Sometime in 2009, a friend who owns a building had a tenant that was moving out and asked if Alfredo was interested in the space. He had saved $50,000 over the years and decided to give it a try.

Large trucks are required to be inspected annually and every 90-days. Alfredo believes there was a need for a company that does the inspections and services the trucks, e.g. maintenance, dry train, brakes, small fabrication jobs.  He opened Watsonville Diesel on September 1, 2009.

The first and second years were hard. His business development strategy consisted of knocking on doors. By 2012, he had a small shop with two employees, and wanted to grow his company. He asked everyone where he should look for more business, where could he find business assistance. An owner of a small shop told him about Vinicio Vinedes of El Pajaro Community Development Corporation.

“You should talk to these people,” said the shop owner. “Everyone goes to Vinicio.”

Alfredo is constantly in learning mode, so he immediately contacted Vinicio. They worked together to expand the company’s target market and drum up more business. Vinicio also helped Alfredo apply for a loan to expand the shop. That didn’t pan out because the company was new and Alfredo’s credit was low.

But Alfredo saved money and has been working on his financial statements with Vinicio. Now he has lots of customers, opened a second location in Hollister to service the Hollister Fire Department, is working with city to get business loan, and hopes to become an international dealer.

Watsonville is home to 600-700 farms that run trucks, but parts are hard to find. Salinas is 35 minutes away and San Jose is over an hour. If he’s a dealer, he can hold $1.5 million in inventory and add to his staff of 8.

It’s not all business with Alfredo. He wants to give back to his community and provide opportunities for youth in a city. Lots of high school students love cars and want to learn what he’s doing. The teachers send him students and he does a mini-training. Then if they’re interested, they go to technical school for 18 months, learn the systems, get certified and if they’re good enough Alfredo will hire them.  About a dozen students come to his shop annually.  He’s hired two of them.