News & Events

Serving Northern California & NW Nevada Volume 7 Number 11 November 2009

Auto Machine Specialties Invests & Diversifies to Remain Successful

Fresno, Calif- A quarter of a century ago, the family owned and operated Auto Machine Specialties (AMS) opened its doors , and since then,  Owner Steve Moody said, the shop has been rebuilding engines and doing general work for customers throughout the San Joaquin valley.
    "We have regular customers from all over Fresno County, from Modesto to Tulare.... and even far south as Oxnard and Vista," Moody said.
    "I've worked here for 18 years, handling the bookkeeping and billing, and I'm amazed at how far away some of our customers come from," said Co-owner Susie Moody, his wife.
    Steve Moody said AMS does fleet maintenance and repair work for companies including Fresno Area Express, Valley Truck Parts & Equipment, Kenworth, International, Toyota Material Handling and Star Trucking.
   We also maintain the city of Kerman's vehicles and the vehicle and pump engine needs for Burford Ranch and Harris Farms.
I've always liked working with the farmers," he said.
We also have individual customers of course. Anybody that walk through the door -- I cater especially to them," Moody said. "We specialize in everything. We have a staff of highly skilled technicians that are well rounded in all forms of gas and diesel engine repair and maintenance and machine work, and I do the performance work". To stay ahead of the competition and expands his business, Moody said he invests an average of $100,000 every year on equipment.
    "Over the past 25 years, we've found that in order to remain successful, we have had to constantly invest in new machines and equipment and diversify, and add new services. You have to change with the market", he said.
    Today, AMS offers a list of services that Moody said includes auto , truck, and industrial diesel engine rebuilding, large and small gas engine rebuilding, a general machine shop with CNC lathes, mills, saws, boring mills, surface grinders, a VTL lath, MIG and TIG welding , and a heavy-duty hydraulic cylinder machine and rebuilding shop.
     We also have a street performance and race engine program that includes research and development, building and testing, and we are now making our own line of engine components, Moody said.
We also have our own line of small block Chevy Stroker engines ranging from 360 horsepower to 500 horsepower that sell for $3,200 to $4,995."
     In 2007, Moody said, he invested a lot to increase the performance and race engine building part of his business. I bought a Stuska trackmaster LC engine dynomometer that cost $30,000 and a $10,000 Flow Data FD700 flow bench.
    "This year we spent $30,00 on a new lath $100,000 on a new Viper 111 CNC machine that were building fixtures for now that will enable us to machine our own engine blocks", he said.
We've been doing race engines all along, but 2007 is when we decided to really get into it big, "Moody said. "To do it right you have, you've got to have the equipment. Since I got the dyno and the flow bench, it has really helped.
With the new equipment, Moody said he was able to build a NASCAR-quality, 1,100 horsepower 302 V-8 for Bonneville Nationals lakes racer that ran 198.4 miles an hour. "It took a thousand hours to build the engine and cost $70,000, but the customer was very happy." We also do a lot of custom hot-rod engine building. That's the main market I really like." Moody said. A lot of the racers around here don't have a lot of money, and the rodders do."
The knowledge gained at Bonneville has lead Moody to say he is looking at designing his own cams. Ive started working on custom cam grindings, and so far Ive learned from Bonneville that a lot of people don't really know whats going on. Ive got the equipment and I'm working on getting the [cam] masters, and I've started a quest for knowledge."
    Moody said the main reason he'd invested so heavily in performance is because the big diesel market has dried up. "I used to build four or five big diesel engines a month for one customer in town; now that's all gone away. They can buy a new engine for about $2000, and they have to meet certain EPA requirements, so they're destroying all of those old engines," he said. "Thats why I decided to really get into the performance stuff, and now I'm learning computer technology so I can work on computer controlled engines."
    All the investments has paid off, Moody said. We had a record in 2008, and were about the same this year as last.
    The new CNC machines and lathes have also enabled us to produce products of our own, like blower drive pulleys and the parts for motorcycles and mini-quads that we sell on e bay."
    Because of the shop's reputation for quality, Moody said it has quite a bit of work from long-time customers, so he doesn't advertise much. "It's mostly word of mouth, and we've had a web-sight up for the past two years that has gotten 18,000 hits, and were setting the sight for e-commerce soon." Moody said he really attributes his success to the way he takes care of his customers. "This is a family business; my wife is here, our 16 year old son Dillon has been in the shop since he was 2, and he builds motors and goes to Bonneville, and we treat our customers like family."

written by Dick DeLoach, Parts & People Nov. 2009
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