The mostly vacant West Plains complex where Alloy Trailers Inc. and later Reliance Trailer Co. LLC operated for many years is about to see some new life.
Marc Fessler, owner of Fessco Fleet & Marine Inc., at 4101 E. Broadway, says he has leased with an option to buy six buildings there with a total of about 64,000 square feet of floor space and 8 acres of land. Fessco plans to move there by early April.
The company is a 16-year-old, custom-detailing business that specializes in mostly large vehicles, such as heavy-duty trucks and big boats. At its current location, it offers a drive-thru truck wash and a full detail and aluminum polish facility. It also does custom striping, lettering, and logos, both vinyl and painted, and is a distributor and retailer for a range of big-rig chrome and lighting accessories, as well as accessories for trucks and SUVs.
Fessler says his long-range goal is to expand the West Plains facility, at 3025 S. Geiger Blvd., into a multiservice complex similar in operation to Danny's Truck Wash and Danny's Big Rig Resort facilities in Phoenix.
"We're sort of going to do a Northwest version of that," he says, adding that such facilities offer all the amenities of large truck stops except for fuel, including around-the-clock truck parking, a lounge, showers, truck servicing, detailing and chrome polishing, and food and retail services. Depending on demand, he says he also might explore launching a full body shop there.
Fessco employs 12 people now, and Fessler says he expects that to grow to around 20 employees after the move. It has been on a month-to-month lease at its current location recently due to efforts to develop a regional animal shelter on that site, he says, adding that an attractive lease-purchase arrangement on the former Alloy property convinced him to move the company.
Its location next to Interstate 90 and near other trucking-related businesses on the West Plains also was a big plus, he says. Kevin Edwards and Dick Edwards, of Hawkins Edwards Inc., of Spokane, handled Fessco's lease of the property there, he says.
Fessler formerly worked at the Kaiser Aluminum Mead Works plant and says he began getting into auto detailing work in the 1990s around the time workers at the plant went on strike. He got into it more heavily later on when that plant closed.
He founded the business here in 1996 under the name Auto Appearance Plus, and later expanded into boat, recreational vehicle, and heavy truck detailing. In 2004, he incorporated the business under the Fessco Fleet & Marine name, but it also continues to provide detailing services for passenger cars and light trucks and retains Auto Appearance Plus as a trade name.
He says he initially leased 6,700 square feet of space for the business on East Broadway Avenue, expanded that to 12,000 square feet in 2004, and then scaled back to the original space in the fall of 2009 as the recession cut into revenues. Business now is rebounding, though, along with the trucking industry, Fessler says.
"It's come back considerably. In the past year, things have really picked up," he says, adding, "Things are on the rise for us."
Fessler says he won't make a lot of improvements initially to the property on Geiger Boulevard, but will add services and update portions of the complex as warranted by growth in the demand for services. He says he might seek to sublease out some space there and use certain vacant space for customer vehicle and boat storage to generate revenue until Fessco needs it for the services it provides.
Fessler is leasing the property from Mayken Investments LLC, of Spokane, which now owns it. The last remnants of a truck trailer manufacturing operation there that dates back nearly half a century and employed more than 300 people for a time were auctioned off in April 2010.
Reliance Trailer quietly shut down several months earlier, 12 years after its founders, California businessmen Brian Ling and Duke Yolo, had bought the assets of Alloy Trailers Inc., of Spokane, out of bankruptcy. Alloy had opened in 1961.
Reliance had occupied a total of about 105,000 square feet of office and manufacturing space in a number of buildings on the 23-acre site, just south across Geiger Boulevard from Spokane's waste-to-energy plant.
Along with its operation on the West Plains, it operated for a time a 160,000-square-foot manufacturing facility in the Spokane Business & Industrial Park, in Spokane Valley.
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