‘Rock Hound’ Becomes Rock-Solid PIRTEK Owner
Virginia Beach Service & Supply Center has strong over-the-counter automotive business
PIRTEK franchise owners come from the widest range of experiences and educational backgrounds imaginable. Case in point: David Driskill, owner of PIRTEK Lake Wright in Virginia Beach, VA, who earned his undergraduate degree in geology from the University of Alabama.
“An education can help you with running a franchise,” said Driskill, who also holds an MBA from Old Dominion University. “There is no academic degree that can fully prepare a person to manage a small business – you still have to learn as you go.”
The geology background did figure into Driskill’s career path, a path that led ultimately to PIRTEK. After graduation, he started working sales and business management for a company that made earth-moving machinery. “The heavy machinery was related to my background, to geology, with all the digging and dealing with rock quarries in the earlier years,” he said.
Driskill continued in that industry for more than 20 years. But when his employer kept changing owners every few years, he decided to try something else. The hydraulic hose business seemed a natural fit based on his familiarity with hydraulic machinery. But Driskill realized he’d have to learn more about how to install the hoses.
After doing some internet research, Driskill ran across PIRTEK.
“When I realized it was a franchise, I shifted gears and started investigating PIRTEK,” he said. “It was all about equipment uptime, minimizing downtime. The business model made perfect sense to me.”
There are 57 PIRTEK Service & Supply Centers in the United States. The company has a line of fluid transfer products – oils, lubricants, hoses, fittings – all branded with the PIRTEK logo. Globally, PIRTEK has more than 400 locations and 2,000 Mobile Service Vehicles serving industries that use equipment with hydraulic- or pneumatic-powered machinery. When a company needs a hose replaced in a hurry, PIRTEK technicians do the customization and installation on site.
“We’re not just a hose shop, we are a service business,” Driskill said. “It’s a ‘right now’ business. We don’t just tell them we’ll place an order. We don’t tell them we’ll be there in a couple of days.”
As Driskill was setting up his PIRTEK franchise, the recession was ramping up, making the startup extra challenging. But he stuck with it, did a lot of marketing, and shook many hands. “It was a feet-on-the-street type of thing – belly to belly, face to face with the customer,” he said. “I realized that if I could save these guys an hour of equipment downtime, that’s big money. A lot of people don’t even know how much time and money they lose from hydraulic hose failure.”
In addition to dispatching vehicles to industrial sites, PIRTEK Lake Wright also has a thriving over-the-counter business for walk-in customers. Automotive products make up half of such sales there. Customers at the Virginia Beach Service & Supply Center can purchase lines for fuel, air-conditioning, brakes, transmissions, power steering, turbochargers, and more.
PIRTEK Lake Wright also customizes and installs various automotive lines and hosing. Driskill’s team has made automotive lines for all kinds of vehicles: antique cars, race cars, show cars, boat trailers, and large four-wheel drive vehicles.
Driskill’s technicians have a number of interesting projects to their credit. In 2014, they provided service to a vessel just before it departed for the Middle East. The center has repaired popular amusement park rides and a hydraulic pool cover for a homeowner. Vintage car jobs have included a 1935 Ford pickup and a classic 1957 Cadillac.
“The biggest reward is having customers tell you how important your business is to them, how good your employees are,” he said, “and just how much our service means to them.”