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Dave Gilley- 2023 Hall of Fame Inductee

March 14, 2024

From a very young age Dave always enjoyed working with his Dad in the garage. Working on his car, a 72′ Trans am, he always tried to learn as much as he could about as many different parts and pieces as possible.

At 13 years old, 2 weeks into Highschool he lost his mother to alcohol and drug abuse. He grew up in a very troubled home and would use work to escape. He started working at Harper Precast in North Salt Lake in the summers cutting rebar, welding various assemblies and doing minor repairs on equipment for all his summers. He used to get in trouble during the school year because he’d sluff his classes to hangout in metal shop and work on projects.

By the time he was old enough to drive, he saved up, and bought an f150. He would leave around 3pm each day after school to head back to Harper and sometimes work until 9-11pm at night running bobcats, welding cat walks on cement plants, building different assemblies for different jobs and just all-around general metal work. 

It was his junior year in high school he came across a WyoTech Rep named Kim T Miller who gave our vocational welding class at Jordan Applied Technology Center a presentation on what WyoTech was all about! He had mentioned high performance power trains, street rod, collision, heavy duty diesel, and at last he mentioned Motorsports chassis fab. Right then he was hooked and knew that is what he wanted to do for college. 

Dave continued his studies in welding until he graduated Grantsville Highschool in 2010. He was all signed up and ready to head for Wyoming two weeks after finishing high school and couldn’t wait!

He remembers driving to Laramie for the first time very vividly.  There was absolutely nothing out there for about 350-400 miles and only a small town or pitstop every 100 miles or so. He arrived, had orientation, and was extremely intimidated as he was one of the youngest in his class at 18 years old and in new surroundings. He’d never been away from home.

After a tearful farewell with his Father he headed for campus courtyards, got moved into his dorm, introduced himself to his roommates and thought just how wild it was that his first day was tomorrow.

Dave recalls his first day in class as pretty good. He got to meet his instructors for EMS, Larry Wostenberg and Rusty Meranda. Both were Awesome! He had remembered asking them what all the grey shirts were about. They informed him it was the eagle tech program and that you had to be nominated for that based on good attendance, high scores and awesome work ethic.

That class was amazing and in two months, Larry had nominated him for eagle tech. He was extremely excited, very happy as he had hit his first milestone. He had perfect attendance, perfect test scores and felt like he was humming along. After phase one, he made it to Chassis and drivetrain, his instructors were Eric Paul, Jarrod Wheeler and Thomas Wilber.

They learned how to do brakes, chassis components, various suspension parts, transmission nomenclature and many other things. He got his Snap-On ethos Certs, and Atra certification. During his time in drivetrain, he was offered a unique opportunity to compete with his high school team in FFA nationals as they had previously won state during his time in high school. He approached the campus director at the time, Caleb, and made a deal with him that if he finished all of his comps and kept his grades up WyoTech, would he let him attend nationals in Indianapolis for a week. This was unheard of as normally you would hour out after missing so much time, he recalls.

He went to compete on the national level for FFA and won first place in welding and Energy systems. He returned to Caleb’s office the following Monday and delivered a couple pins and Gold metals. He was super proud and agreed to honor his perfect attendance for the phase. For the record, Eric Paul said hell no and still owes him a red pin to this day. He still has his collection too.

Finally, it was time for Chassis Fabrication and his mind was blown. He had finally made it to the last class of WyoTech and it was by far the best. His instructors were Bryan Steinbock, Joe Shalkowski and Rick Junkermeier. He expressed the early days of chassis fab as feeling he knew his way around the tools, equipment, and metal work in general. He passed most of his welding comps within the first few weeks and moved straight to custom projects. He had built his own engine stand, tube notcher, Bender, and a few other odds and ends. He remembers working on Ricks Buggy project, mounting an LS with trans up in the frame, and helped build a few lotus 7 chassis with a few other students. 

They got a lot done in those short months and learned a ton and he was hooked. One day Randy Svalina, (one of the absolute best men to walk the earth, Dave says) came in and informed him that he had been selected as the valedictorian speaker for his class at graduation. He had accomplished one of the highest honors that was offered at WyoTech, along with NTHS, and a few others. After he graduated from school, he packed up, said his goodbyes to all the friends he had made in Laramie and headed back to Utah.

He started working for a shop called Proffitt’s Cruisers at Miller Motorsports Park building nothing but Toyotas.

He had a decent time there, learned a lot, and after two years he was let go as they were closing down the Utah location. Fast forward to May 15th of 2013 he had a good friend named Randy Hunt offer him a 3600 square foot shop in the boonies on 1 acre in Grantsville Utah for $1200 a month. 

GILLEYFAB was born. He had no idea how to run a business back then, and had even less in money and equipment, but he made do with what he had. Everything from trailer repair, random metal, handrail jobs, and finally started working his way into sports cars, UTVs, crawlers, race cars, full tube chassis builds. You name it he tried it. He struggled about 5 years, went through a few girlfriends who didn’t believe in him, and what he was trying to do.

He failed at some projects, won massively on others and just kept his nose to the grindstone working day in and out. He is proud to say today he has a wonderful facility, filled with amazing people and equipment, and he had the absolute pleasure of connecting with Randy Reyes who is the owner of the very Popular Randy’s Transmissions. He is an industry leader in Diesel performance transmissions and Randy has been helping him now run a successful business.

He can now utilize his talents to design some of the absolute best parts, cages and components on the market. Gilleyfab Enterprises is now known for top tier fine quality fabrication in the UTV industry. He’s been in business for over 10 years now and is not slowing down. He is very thankful to WyoTech and all the wonderful people who helped him along the way to get him where he is today!   

When we asked Dave what advice he would give to people entering the trades, here is what he had to say:

Always do your absolute best.

You will fail, however learn from failures and turn them into lessons. Some will absolutely hurt, but always turn the negative energy into a positive and make the best of it.

Constantly set goals, build your skill set, become confident, but not cocky, and when you do produce quality, stay humble.

I’ll leave it with a quote. “Always compare yourself to who you were yesterday, not to who someone else is today.” -Dr. Jordan B Peterson.