In 1957, after serving in the Marine Corps, Pete Dejana borrowed $500 dollars from his father to open a three-bay service station on Park Avenue in Huntington, Long Island.
Shortly thereafter, on a Sunday afternoon, a gentleman by the name of Mr. Al Kurt was driving with his family when his car broke down near the service station, and he came in to Pete for help. Pete brought the car back to the station and made the repairs while the family waited. When finished, Mr. Kurt expressed his deep appreciation and asked to settle the bill. Pete explained that he was a new business owner and asked merely for the opportunity to service his cars in the future.
Mr. Kurt explained that he was responsible for fleet maintenance for (what was then) New York Telephone and it wasn’t long before Pete was performing service and repairs on telephone trucks. Eager to get the business, Pete worked day and night repairing trucks as well as other mechanical equipment that gave the phone company trouble.
As the relationship developed, NY Telephone asked Pete if he would consider going beyond service and repair to actually build the new trucks they needed to their special requirements… Dejana Truck & Utility Equipment was born…
From the first day, Pete Dejana established the business with a very strong commitment to customer service and satisfaction. One of his first customers was a woman named Mrs. Barton who proudly owned a brand new 1956 T-Bird and was adamant about how it was to be maintained. Very few people were allowed to even drive “Baby,” much less work on it, but Pete soon earned the privilege to be her mechanic. For years, Pete meticulously maintained the vehicle and was responsive to her every whim. After 20 years of service, Mrs. Barton needed regular medical care and the relationship faded as they often do.
In 1981 Pete was approached by an attorney representing Mrs. Barton, along with her four sons. It seems that one of her last wishes was that “Baby” be left to Pete.
Pete continues the maintenance on the T-Bird to this day, and it is a symbol of our commitment within the company.