What a Long, Strange Trip It Still Is...
Growing up in Osnabrück, Germany, Marco Greywe frequently took apart—and sometimes reassembled—Beetles and Buses. When his parents' garage, attic, and yard were finally filled with parts and cars, he traveled to America seeking more space and less rusty vehicles to work on.
Meanwhile, Steve Perzan was getting a degree in hospitality management at the University of Denver when he discovered that driving around the country and following bands in his first VW Bus was way more enjoyable than school. He also discovered that the bus needed a lot of work and that he was broke, so he learned to fix it himself.
After becoming friends and co-workers, we realized we could put our shared love of the classic Volkswagen to good use. With the winning combination of Marco's wealth of VW knowledge, ability to fix anything, and German-sized muscles, Steve’s business experience, and Marco’s wife Shae’s naming skills, Buslab was born.
In 2002, we pitched in $1700 and acquired a 1000sf storage space in Richmond, CA. Our cozy space had room for just four vans and no lift. Since our start-up money had suddenly lost us the ability to pay rent at home, we needed customers fast. Marco tried out his marketing skills by taking out an ad in the Yellow Pages (“With us, you’ll take the bus"). Luckily customers managed to find us out there, and Buslab was off to a quick start.
The sound of the air compressor echoing off the corrugated steel walls and the fact we were next to an un-ventilated paint shop may explain why all the hair on Steve’s head has since fallen through his skull and attached itself to his chin. Also, after 6 months of customers dropping off their vans in the middle of nowhere and then having to figure out how to get home, we realized we needed a new location. As luck would have it a shop opened up on Blake St. in downtown Berkeley.
The new and improved Buslab had all the amenities we could ever dream of, such as a restroom, a lift to work on, and a way for customers to get home. Best of all, we were able to expand our staff with extra mechanics and, of course, Marco’s canine muse Camper.
When we got the opportunity to expand to our current location at Adeline and Stanford in 2011, we were super stoked. The new location has room for 6 lifts, a huge yard, an office, and a separate customer bathroom (believe us, people are grateful). Plus, it is right next to the Adeline farmer’s market. Steve was excited to put his hospitality management skills to good use, designing a camping display in the yard and a front desk made with a 1971 bus front. Marco geeked out about the space and was soon making yearly trips back to Germany to buy rare cars and parts from our friends over at TriStar. (He might have a hoarding problem...) Our staff has grown to five mechanics, three parts specialists, our office manager, a service writer, and six shop dogs—Bus the lab, Princess, Bo, Bug, Chewy and Buck.