Diesel Engine Repair, Generator Repair, Switchgear Repair, ATS Repair,
Load Bank Test, Battery & Charger, Engine Heater, Oil Change, Fuel Tank
10207 Ni River Drive
Spotsylvania, Virginia 22553-3742
William "Pete" Hodges grew up on a farm and has been around all types of machinery since he could walk. As a young boy he could often be found hanging around the men and machines or sitting on a hillside watching the equipment work. When he was in second grade he watched as the men tried to repair a pumping system on a pressure rig. They were having an awful time and had put it together 4 times with no luck. He realized that a part had been installed backwards and convinced the men to reverse it. When they did it worked! Pete has a gift and from that day forward he knew that he would be working with machinery for the rest of his life.
After high school he entered Nashville Auto Diesel College, a one year trade school. He worked as an equipment operator at a metal recycler during the day and went to school at night. He learned as much on the job as he did in the classroom and became a proficient forklift and skid-steer loader operator along with completing his training near the top of his class. In August of 1978 he began working for a Caterpillar dealer, Virginia Tractor Company in Richmond, VA, and in January of 1979 was transferred to the Custom Engine Department, later to become the Engine Division.
In those days Cat did not build finished products in the custom engine business. Instead, the dealers built all of the custom engine packages to customer specifications from loose components; at least that was what Virginia Tractor was doing. Pete found this an exciting place to work and was able to learn the technical side of the custom engine business from the ground up. He was surrounded by talented people who knew what they were doing and had an eye for quality and reliability. Not every job went perfectly smooth, but every job was completed in a high quality manner. One of the main themes that was imprinted into his brain was this: Never leave anything for the next guy, because the next guy will be you. These machines were built to order for installation in our own service area. If there were any problems with them, those problems would become our problems in the future.
Pete worked for Virginia Tractor for about 4 years. In that time he worked his way up the bottom as an entry level mechanic to one of their top field service men and did jobs all over their territory and the world. "There was a seaport in our territory and that allowed us to sell equipment anywhere it could be shipped. Add one or two customers with a world wide market and suddenly you have work overseas." This was near the end of the big oil business after the gas shortages in the mid 1970s. Pete completed jobs in San Diego, San Francisco, Tacoma, and overseas to Abu Dahbi and Diego Garcia. Pete left in 1982. He was 23.
In March of 1985 Pete went to work for Alban Engine Power in Baltimore. At that time the field service department only had 6 service trucks, but the business was picking up and Pete took a liking to Mike Downs during their first interview. He moved to Baltimore and went to work, and boy did he work! During most of those early years Pete and Tommy Rawlings did all of the generator field work for the entire territory! A standard work week in those days was 60-80 hours. Once, he even joked about it saying, “It is a crying shame that around here you have to schedule, in advance, to get a weekend off!”
In 1988 Pete moved to Spotsylvania, Virginia but continued to work for Alban under the same terms. He just picked up his parts and mail from a different location. Once in Virginia he realized that he would not often have much assistance from the rest of the shop and that he would be picking up all of the service calls from the southern and western end of Alban’s territory. He also came to realize that many of those calls resulted from an installation related issue that was never properly addressed during new installation startup commissioning. The real problem was not identifying the cause and correction, but getting paid to make the repair. Many of the systems were installed by contractors who were on the site during construction, but were unavailable by the time any problems became apparent. A standby or emergency generator doesn’t run that often, and the power is usually available when it does. It can take 10 to 15 years before an installation related failure occurs. When it does, who pays for the repair? If it is no longer under warranty the customer pays. But what about issues unresolved during the warranty, or just past the warranty? Again, this becomes a problem because sometimes it can’t be prevented. Architects are not engine-generator experts, but they are responsible to design all the systems in a new installation. If they specify something and put it on the contract documents, the installation contractors must install the system according to the design, even if it is wrong.
Pete realized the only way to prevent these future problems was to combat them during the commissioning process, while all of the players are still on the site. At first, the managers at Alban found this to be a revolting idea because it tended to add time and startup costs to the jobs. Pete stuck to his guns because he liked having the weekends off. It took almost five years for them to realize that this method worked better than letting the problems fester over time to jump up and bite them in the future. This fact hit them when they noted that his startup jobs had significantly fewer callbacks than startup jobs done by other men in the field. This fact, plus his knowledge and experience, sealed his position as Alban’s top generator man.
Pete worked for Alban for over 20 years and was their top man for more than 10. As he got older he began to look at the business differently and see a bigger picture than before. In the past, he always seemed to be at odds with the sales department, but now realized their necessity. Without salesmen, there wouldn’t be any machines to work on. He also began designing unusual machinery in his spare time and wondering if some of these designs were marketable. He gradually came to the realization that he needed to own his own business and have his own facilities and marketing in order to find out.
In January of 2006 Pete left Alban to start GenTune LLC. He has structured his business to make it possible for profits to be invested in new designs, ideas and technologies. He has also designed and built specific equipment for use in the engine-generator service business that is efficient and provides great flexability to accomplish the tasks required. Pete loves the custom engine business and intends to be tinkering around with electrical power equipment into his last days.
William “Pete” Hodges is 51.