By Reggie Ellis @Reggie_SGN
FARMERSVILLE – A complex of eight, two-story metal buildings along Highway 198 in Farmersville will be the site of an open house this Thursday to celebrate a company that started as a side job out of a couple’s home more than 60 years ago.
AAA Quality Services – and its sister companies Knight Guard Alarm, AAA Security, Inc. and Potter Portable restrooms – will hold an open house to mark the company’s 60th anniversary from 2 to 7:30 p.m. on April 12 at its headquarters, located at 321 E. Noble Ave. in Farmersville.
The Faubel family has spent the last 60 years building one of the Valley’s largest and most versatile security and construction site service companies. Founded by the husband and wife duo of Jay and Viola Faubel in 1958, the AAA name is well respected among competitors and customers alike.
Jay’s career began in high school, when as a sophomore he showed such an aptitude for electrical trades that the he taught his own class for the second half of the semester.
“You learn a lot as an instructor because you see what the most common mistakes are and you are always double checking someone’s work,” Faubel said.
While working at Smart and Final in the 1950s, Jay was able to make contact with people for his side business, doing electrical maintenance work. In 1958, a few men who owned a local alarm company were found stealing cable and materials from the telephone company, which forced the two men out of the area and for them to give up their business. The business fell into the hands of Faubel who had a reputation for being trustworthy and hard working. Faubel and his wife Viola ran the business Alarm and Lighting Service out of his house while he worked to obtain his electrical contractor’s license in 1966. He added the “AAA” in front of the name in 1970, a popular strategy to get listed higher in the phone book, and began hiring on part-time employees. In 1973 he moved the business out of his house and into a former feed mill on Ben Maddox. The next year he bought a fire extinguisher company, AAA Quality Services, and started a security guard service, Knight Guard.
In 1990, the Faubels purchased Potter Porta potty and changed the Alarm and Lighting company name to AAA Quality Services. At one time, Faubel said he acquired 12 different companies in a 18-month period. In all, Fauble said he has lost count of the number of businesses he has acquired but could safely say it was more than 70. Faubel said he rarely brought equipment, tools or materials from the businesses he acquired in favor of using the known commodities of his own businesses. He said most of the purchases were to acquire their account list, which Faubel could easily incorporate into his expanding list of services and companies.
“I didn’t set out to buy a bunch of businesses,” Faubel said. “Some were struggling, some were retiring and I saw an opportunity to help them and improve my business at the same time.”
For example, Potter’s Porta Potties was a major player in the Bakersfield area, but the company was relocating to Southern California and wanted to divest itself from doing business in the central valley. Faubel, who was already providing services such as temporary fencing and security to construction sites in Kern County, decided to add porta potties to the list of services that now stretch between Tulare, Kings, Kern, Fresno and Madera counties.
In 1992, the Faubles moved their company to 100 acres off Highway 198 north of the Farmersville city limits. While Jay oversaw the operations of the company, Viola oversaw the finances and ran their farming interests. Jay recalls one time that his wife hauled fruit from the field to the cannery while she was pregnant with one child, and when she filled out payroll farms for farm labor from a hospital bed while recovery from the birth of another. They were a force for business services and community service before Viola’s passing 2016. Viola was very active in the community as an officer and supporter of Rotary International, Eastern Star’s, the Woodlake Veteran’s Memorial Board and a number of other service organizations.
“She was so good at managing money,” Jay said of his late wife and business partner.
Jay said the most difficult part of being a business owner is all of the permitting and regulations associated with each employee, truck and service. There is a large cork board in his conference room cluttered with licenses for all of his employees which must be renewed annually for a total of $40,000. Similar paperwork is needed for work trucks and major equipment in all five counties. Just the permitting to build his complex off Highway 198 was difficult.
“For my last three buildings, it took me five years to get annexed into the city, then another year for zoning and permits,” he said. “It took me less than 12 months to build all three.”
The best thing about owning a large business is the employees. Faubel said it was hard to delegate work in the beginning, but now his children run much of the operation. The Faubles had eight children, four of which who work for the company, two who have passed away and two who work for the State of California. His oldest daughter, Sandy Theis has been with the company for 32 years and runs payroll and personnel. Terry Thompson runs the legal side and safety training and compliance for the company. Terry Faubel, one of three children adopted by Jay and Viola, runs the porta potty and sanitation side of the services. Rex Faubel, who has been with the company for 14 years, is in charge of building maintenance, farming operations and the company’s information technology services. In all, they oversee 200 part-time and full-time employees.
“I’m really proud of my kids and the employees,” Faubel said. “I have had some employees for 38 years and many of them more than 20 years. They’ve all put their life into this and done a great job.”