Dave Schneider started his business in a 2 1/2 car garage on a country road.
“I worked at Pierce at the time,” he said. “One day I woke up – I was 30 years old and thought if I never go out on my own, I won’t.”
Schneider says he liked the type of work he did at Pierce but wanted to have his own business.
“They asked if I’d be interested in taking over the service on the fire trucks from Wisconsin and the Upper Peninsula,” he said. “When I started, I did repairs for 10 fire departments. Now, it’s over 600.”
Schneider started Red Power Diesel Service Inc. in 1994.
Today, the company employs about a dozen people and works out of a 12,800 square foot building in rural Fremont.
Red Power Diesel Service has been located at that site for about seven years.
Seven years ago, Schneider also took on a business partner – Greg Gisvold – who continues to be a partner today.
But, before building a larger facility, the company operated out of garage.
“Before I quit Pierce, I built a 40-by-60 garage and finished half of it myself,” Schneider said. “I was in the front half two years and then finished off the back half and was in there three to four years. Then, I built this building and added on once.”
Red Power Diesel Service is an authorized service center for Pierce.
“We are a Level 1 on their grading system of 1 to 4, with 1 being the best. We also take care of all Pierce stock demos for aerials and pumpers,” Schneider said.
When he decided to build the larger facility, he chose West Bloomfield because it was close to home and also a central location in the state, he said.
“We can be in Manitowoc in 2 1/2 hours and Eau Claire in 2 1/2 hours,” Schneider said.
The company has three equipped vans that can carry five employees for service dispatches.
“The major stuff comes here,” Schneider said.
With the average life of a fire truck being between 20 and 30 years, there are many technological updates that need to take place during that time, he said.
“We’re usually working on between eight and eleven vehicles at a time,” Schneider said. “And then we build some of our own vehicles.”
The company is busy.
With multiple competitors in the state, he believes their reputation for having competitive rates and good customer service is what makes the difference.
“We actually turn customers away that don’t want a job done right,” he said.
Most of Red Power Diesel’s employees are master emergency vehicle technicians.
“There is not a surplus of employees for skilled labor. Skilled labor is huge,” Schneider said.
His employees drive from such communities as Clintonville and Hancock to work there.
“We can teach them if they want to learn. There is a demand for attention to detail,” he said.
Many of Red Power Diesel’s customers learn about the company through word of mouth.
In addition to working on Pierce fire trucks, they also work on other fire trucks and on farm tractors.
“The fire industry always has to come first,” he said. “I always have technicians on call for the weekend.”
Schneider put much thought into the type of building and equipment he has.
“I’ve actually had people think that this is a fire department,” he said. “Retirees passing through often stop by to see what is going on. The fire industry has a lot of camaraderie. Once they are a firefigther or an EMS, they are for the rest of their life.”