David Ruelas, co-owner of Fast Mobile Service Truck Repair & Parts in Grandview, grew up in a family that placed a strong value on work.

Starting small, he and his family have grown a repair business in the Lower Yakima Valley into an operation that now has 16 employees, a workshop and a parts supply store.

“If you are going to do something, become the best, no matter the position. What matters is your work ethic,” said Ruelas, 37. “I started sweeping in a workshop, but I took my job seriously and I was the best sweeper in that business.”

For three years, Ruelas traveled from Sunnyside to Yakima for his work, until one day he decided to become independent.

Ruelas opened his business, then called Fast Mobile Service, a mobile cargo truck repair service, in 2005, when he was 23 years old. He used a $1,000 loan from his mother and his father’s credit cards.

“I gathered money and with the help of my parents I bought a van and started my own business. I worked all day on the roads repairing broken trucks. It was very hard, but I worked nonstop until I opened my workshop.”

Family matters

The philosophy of work and respect is something that Ruelas inherited from his family.

“We are a big family of five siblings. As children we had many economic crises. My siblings and I always helped our parents on holidays and weekends. Then, as teenagers, my older siblings and I went to work in the fields. We started at 4 in the morning and at 8 we went to school. Work is part of our life. To have something, you have to work hard,” he said.

Ruelas and his siblings were born in the United States, their parents are from Michoacán, Mexico, and they worked in agriculture when they arrived in this country. Later, his father became a ranch welder and worked in that job for more than 20 years. His mom cleaned houses.

“My life has always been work, just like for my whole family, that is our mentality: ‘If you are going to do something, do it right,’ and that helped me when I started working after graduating from high school,” David Ruelas said. “The owner of a workshop hired me as a sweeper and in three days I left the place so clean that he began to teach me mechanics. I was climbing the work ladder.

“Then, I was one of the main mechanics and had clients assigned, but I kept sweeping every day because I was hired for that and I did it until the day I left there.”

In 2011, Ruelas rented a place in Sunnyside and set up a workshop. Two years ago, he and his family bought land and built their own facilities in Grandview.

“We wanted to renew the contract in Sunnyside, but we couldn’t, so we thought about seeking help to continue our business, that’s how we arrived at the (Small) Business Development Center, they guided us to establish our company. They showed us how we could have our facilities. Thanks to their help, we were able to expand our business.”

So Ruelas, now with his family as part of the company, was able to expand. The business is now called Fast Mobile Service Truck Repair and Parts.

A workshop that started with a mobile service vehicle now has three. They provide emergency roadside assistance 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The business has 16 employees and a 14,000-square-foot repair shop, which includes a parts store.

The Ruelas family also owns Fast Driveline Services, a workshop specializing in repairing semi-truck transmission lines in Yakima.

In the family business, everyone works, Ruelas says. His dad is the main welder of the Yakima workshop. His older brother is the main mechanic. His younger brother is in charge of selling parts and his sister is the administrator in Grandview. Another of his sisters takes care of the commercial area in Seattle.

“Together we are growing the business,” he said. “They are an example for all employees and they are my greatest support.”

Business advice

In 2016, the Small Business Development Center in Washington state advised the Ruelas family to create a business plan and showed them new systems to manage their finances to acquire a loan to buy their facility.

“Essentially, the SBDC helped the Ruelas family find and obtain funds to build their location in Grandview, helping them with financial projections, reviewing business plans and helping them navigate through the loan process with the USDA (U.S. Department of Agriculture),” said Sarah Truglio, certified commercial adviser to the WSBDC. Truglio said her predecessor, Linda Johnson, was the one who assisted the business.

The Ruelas family first contacted the USDA in December 2016. In February 2018, they had moved to their own facility in Grandview.

Ruelas said the family wants to continue to grow the business, but the goals go beyond that.

“For us it is important to take care of our employees. We offer retirement plans and medical insurance, but above all we show respect for each of them,” he said. “The same to our customers and even competitors, because we learn from them. Because of our good customer service, they come back. They continue to give us business by bringing their trucks or buying parts.”