Car Recyclers, Inc.
Kelly Kerlin had a ritual whenever he saw Max Fisher. He’d ask the auto recycler and owner of Car Recyclers, Inc. in North Manchester, Ind., “When are you going to sell the place?”
At the time, Kelly was the body shop manager for a General Motors dealership. He had been there since high school, working his way up from sweeping floors to wearing the white shirt and purchasing parts from local auto recyclers like Fisher.
“I thought owning a salvage yard sounded like fun,” explained Kelly. “I kept bugging him about it, until one day he stepped into my office and asked if I was serious.”
Kelly went home and talked it over with his wife, Katrina Kerlin. Owning the auto recycling facility would be a major departure from his dealership job, where he didn’t even get dirty, but it was a chance to own a business. The couple spent the next year exploring the idea. Even though Car Recyclers was a well-established auto recycling business, the Kerlins had a lot of research and number crunching ahead of them.
“We knew nothing about salvage yards, aside from the general concept,” admitted Kelly. “So we did our research. We even attended one of the national ARA conventions and became involved in the Automotive Recyclers of Indiana, Inc. (ARI) association before we bought the yard. Everyone was so outgoing and willing to help. We met a lot of interesting fellow auto recyclers and they all shared valuable information. Networking and seeking out help from ARI was instrumental in helping us make the decision to buy the yard.”
Today, Kelly is an ARI board member and Katrina is the secretary / treasurer.
The Road Ahead
The Kerlins made the decision to buy Car Recyclers in May 2006. The first changes made were cosmetic.
“We’re on a state highway,” Kelly explained, “and we’re surrounded by a white metal fence that prevents [traffic] from seeing [the facility]. We contracted a local painter to paint our name and recycling symbols on the fence. We also changed the building awning so it had our name and the words, ‘Public Welcome.’ Those changes have made all the difference.”
Later the Kerlins purchased a van for deliveries. “We added decals to the van. Now it’s a big moving billboard,” said Kelly. “That alone has been a major advertisement. I’ve gotten plenty of calls saying ‘I’m driving down the road and I’m behind your truck’.”
Car Recyclers serves a customer mix of about 60 percent wholesale and 40 percent retail. The business inventory leans toward the Detroit Three (General Motors, Chrysler and Ford) automakers. It sells used vehicles in addition to recycled and aftermarket parts. A 30-day standard warranty is available on all parts and some aftermarket parts carry lifetime warranties. Customers have the option to purchase extended warranties.
Everyone on staff is especially knowledgeable and well trained. In addition to each employee’s formal education and on-the-job experience, Car Recyclers has also invested in the online training program available through ARA University (ARAUniversity.org).
“We have a really great crew with a good work ethic,” Kelly said. “It’s a family atmosphere. We work together to make Car Recyclers the yard you would want to buy from.
“What sets us apart is probably our customer service and our attitude,” he added. “We try a little harder because of the perception of the industry over the years. We’re not a junkyard. Junk is a word that means useless things. We carry recycled parts.”
Owners: Kelly & Katrina Kerlin
Location: North Manchester, Ind.