Bringing Back Glory to a 1969 Chevy Truck
Opportunity and happenstance have guided Geoff Dozier through much of his career in the collision repair industry. Most recently, “it just so happened,” as Dozier likes to say, that he came across a 1969 Chevrolet C-20 Custom Camper while perusing eBay. It was an opportunity that he just had to jump at, he says. Not only did Dozier bid on the new “toy,” winning it only set him back $500 and change.
“I was like ‘Oh, my God! I can’t pass this up,’” Dozier recalls about his reaction to seeing the car and its price on eBay. “I couldn’t resist.”
Dozier, now co-owner and president of Telesis Collision in Palmdale, Calif., began his career in the industry as an auto-insurance adjuster with Progressive Insurance in 1999. “It was kind of a fluke really,” he says. “I was looking for something new to do. Progressive had a booth [at a show in Los Angeles] and next thing you know, three months later I’m working for them.”
While at Progressive, as luck would have it, an old friend he’d met while at a 1993 car show—Greg Cole—called him up and said the shop he worked at was for sale. So, as opportunity knocked, Dozier answered once again and bought Telesis with Cole in 2003.
“I’ve never actually worked on cars. Greg has been working on cars his whole life,” Dozier says. “[And together] we just took advantage of the opportunity.”
Dozier isn’t a mechanic or a bodyman by trade, just a guy making a living at something he loves—playing with cars.
“When I was young, anything with four wheels was interesting to me. I always had toy cars and trucks,” he says. “I knew just about every car make and model by the age of ten.”
Trained repairer or not, Dozier runs a $2.4 million a year operation with 10 employees and closing out about 80 vehicles every month. About 20 percent of the shop’s work is custom restoration jobs like Dozier’s ‘69 pick-up. But while taking on customer projects is part of the business, he prefers to own the vehicle that is being restored.
“In our experience a lot of people don’t have an understanding of what it takes to do a restoration,” he says. “It can take up to 18 months and a lot of money and resources.”
And he should know: He threw nearly $30,000 and a year of work into his steal-of-a-deal from eBay. The restoration began in February 2009 with completely dismantling the frame. The frame was then media-blasted and powder-coated.
Cole did all the mechanical work, Dozier says. The suspension and transmission were completely rebuilt, and a new exhaust system with a Flowmaster muffler was installed. Cole also dropped in a new ZZ 454 GM Performance Crate Motor with a deluxe serpentine accessory belt.
And to finish it off? Cosmetics. New interior, wooden bed and side moldings, along with 16-inch Eagle Alloy wheels and a shiny two-tone red-and-white paint job. Although the project ended up being a complete overhaul, the truck’s character was maintained by its original radio and dash instruments.
Currently, the shop is working on five restoration projects—two of which are owned by shop workers—in addition to their repair workload. In 2008, Dozier and his team rebuilt five other “shop-owned” cars and sold them at auction.
He places the ‘69 truck’s worth between $45,000 and $50,000—which would earn him about $20,000 profit if he decided to sell. But, that’s not going to happen.
“I’m keeping it,” he says. “I enjoy it too much.”
Now, after a decade of opportunities, Dozier has been able to turn a childhood passion into a rewarding career in the collision industry.
“People always say, ‘Do what you love’ and I think we are really fortunate here [at Telesis] because we get to play with cars all day [and do just that].”