For more than 30 years, Tottenville resident Scott Spina has saved individual motorists and car dealers the time and hassle of driving to the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) and waiting in line to have registrations and other applications processed. It amuses him that most people still know him only as “Plateman.”
“I can do anything the DMV does, except issue driver’s licenses,” Spina said in an interview at his ground-floor office on New Dorp Lane, where six full-time employees were typing away on computers directly connected to the state agency’s system. On one desk, was a stack of unassigned New York State license plates, ready to be matched with official vehicle registration cards that are printed out on the spot once all the required documentation is in order.
From a casual start in the early 1970s, Plateman Inc. is now an officially licensed agent of the DMV, with the authority since 1996 to process vehicle registrations and renewals, duplicate titles, license plate surrenders, casual vehicle sales or transfers between individuals, and other matters. “We go to Motor Vehicles for you” is the company’s motto.
It’s a serious business that requires constant vigilance to spot irregularities such as altered title certificates and insurance cards. “I am held solely responsible by New York State for all the documentation that we submit,” Spina explained.
His employees have eagle eyes from years of experience. “We enjoy a very good reputation with the DMV, and I’m very proud of that,” he said.
In addition to New York, the company is equipped to register vehicles in a number of other states, including Florida.
The business was launched when Spina and his father, Dominick, spotted an opportunity to generate part-time work for themselves. Spina served in the U.S. Army from 1969 to 1971 and was back home, attending Wagner College; his father, a postal worker, was planning to retire. As Spina tells the story, it was the invoice for a recent car purchase that got them thinking because it included a $10 “documentary fee” for the service of registering the vehicle at the DMV….