Brake & Hydrovac Service began its humble roots in October of 1956 as two entrepreneurs, JF Hilsman (29) and Ralph Morris (31), recognized a growing need for quality remanufactured automotive parts at competitive prices. While working at Williams, Harvey & Rowland (WHR - a full service truck parts shop), their passion for opening their own full service shop. Able to attract a key rebuilder from WHR to their new venture, the company now had the initial manpower and equipment to service the aftermarket industry.
Shortly after making the big step, Brake & Hydrovac Service was designated an "Authorized Service Station" and extended the Vacuum Power Warranty Repair privilege by Bendix Products Division in 1957. This distinction allowed Brake & Hydrovac Service to remanufacture all Bendix vacuum units (hydrovacs and treadle-vacs) and to handle all warranty claims on behalf of Bendix.
As repair work and the demand for remanufactured vacuum boosters grew, JF and Ralph decided to relinquish the old "Brake & Hydrovac Service" name to the more encompassing "Brake Specialty Co." in 1960. As business progressed, the reputation of their remanufacturing quality had attracted the business of other large aftermarket suppliers besides Bendix. Wagner, then a sole entity, sought the service of Brake Specialty Co. to remanufacture their brake bleeders and to handle all their air and hydraulic warranty work.
On April 20, 1973, the outlook of the company took a dramatic shock as JF was nearly killed, having been brutally attacked and beaten by an employee after being fired. The attack on JF decimated the company, marking a turning point in the company history as the events to come would forever change Brake Specialty Co.. Monday, the morning of April 23, Rick Eskew, JF's son-in-law, took a temporary leave of absence at his present job, to ensure operations continued. Three months later he was forced into a decision by his current employer to make a choice; without hesitation he jumped on the Brake Specialty express train.
Hired as shop supervisor, Rick's duties changed as he was now spending a majority of his time remanufacturing power brake units (bleeder balls, mastervacs, hydrovacs, air clusters, air vacs, treadle-vacs and others) and helping out on the parts counter during peak business times. The exposure to the remanufacturing of the units foreshadowed Rick's soon to be renowned industry reputation as an expert on power brake applications. Six months later JF returned to the company. Rick was later acquainted with his new sidekick, Ed Fuller, at the time only 18. Ed was quickly indoctrinated into brake booster remanufacturing, with over 28 years under his belt now rebuilding power brake boosters.
As the quality for the remanufactured brake booster units continued to be consistent with OEM units, the demand for remanufacturing products took off in 1978. Brake Specialty’s recognition gained industry recognition and was later approached in the early 90’s by several warehouse to be their sole supplier for remanufactured brake boosters. For fear of reduction in quality of work and dilution of the brand name, Brake Specialty Co. opted to cater to master mechanics and classic restorers. Although the brake booster business had served the company well, the future for Reman Brakes lie in becoming a complete distributor of automotive and truck parts, capitalizing on their knowledge base and reputation.
With the decline for brake boosters, Shay Eskew (Rick’s son) was recruited by the family to come home and help rejuvenate the company in 2000. After 6 months of intensive scrutiny, Rick and Shay completely realigned the company, focusing on their core competencies and their market strengths. One of the key instruments in achieving the transformation to the present “Reman Brakes” involved Shane Williams, a parts manager who had paid his dues with over 5 years learning the business. Since then the company has achieved a healthy 30% annualized growth and is poised for a strong market presence with is continual focus on providing quality automotive and heavy duty solutions at a value that keeps the customer coming back again and again.