The Vaal body shop community were saddened by the recent death of Chris Gamaletsos from Alfa Trio Panelbeaters in Vereeniging. Chris was rightfully regarded as one of the most professional repairers for over 50 years in the Vaal where the company started from humble beginnings. His pioneering commitment to quality of collision repair always carried him forwards.
Chris started out working for a mechanical repair business in 1961 in Athens. The problem of getting filthy hands every day drove him quite mad, so after a couple more years he moved over to the body shop centre of their business to concentrate on this area instead.
Rolling the clock forward, Chris had a friend who had emigrated to South Africa and he wrote to say the country was really moving ahead fast and that many new possibilities were available there.
The next big step for Chris came in his new country of adoption South Africa around 1965 when he started to repair body damaged cars in Vanderbijlpark. At night he also developed his own customer base in an after-hours attempt to get rich. Subsequently Chris was offered land at 60 General Smuts Avenue in Duncanville where the company still operate today. In 1970 the Alfa Trio company was born and became one of the most rapidly progressive centres at the time. With a team of specialist body and paint staff they pioneered amazing growth and Gamaletsos moved ahead with new divisions in retail business adventures with 4 Ways Auto Car Sales and an in-house scrapyard operation. He also had a new towing business.
The company was well set-up to be regarded as the top repair business in the Vaal area at the start of the eighties.
It is a tribute from a staff reflection point of view that this family-owned and operated company managed to retain many of their skilled workers for up to 50 years.
Chris had a hard-nosed reputation with suppliers, where he demanded great service coupled to the best possible price throughout his trading years. However, his staff enjoyed many second chances when things went awry, or not quite up to standard in the repair cycle of the business and enjoyed working for the company.
The new order of the company sees Alex Gamaletsos, his son, handling the operation which became a level 7 BEE company in recent years.
With close to 100 staff and a business operation driven by almost clinical hygienic conditions, it is a shop that could well work in any world market for collision repair. The company’s constant commitment to reinvestment in new methods and equipment was Chris’ crusade to be the best of the best in this game and is now his legacy.
Chris passed away on the 23 March 2020 after a short illness with the national lockdown in place. A small family gathering was in attendance for the burial. He is survived by his wife Christine, Alex his son and his daughters Malamo and Marika, who form the nucleus of Alfa Trio.
Excellent values were vitally important to Chris as he drove the company forward with great success where he was able to finally chase the impossible dream of creating the perfect body repair business.
Our condolences to the family and to all those who knew and worked with him over the last 50 years.