Tedrow Auto Wrecking
Lee Graffice, 81, is still working at his family's auto recycling business, Tedrow Auto Wrecking Co., in Wauseon, Ohio. Don't be surprised if you see his great grandchildren washing cars or sweeping floors there, too. Tedrow Auto Wrecking has always been about family, whether it's the people who run the business or the family of customers it has served for more than 70 years.
Verta Graffice, Lee's father, started Tedrow Auto Wrecking in 1939. Named for the town where it's located, Tedrow Auto Wrecking started slowly, steadily growing over the decades. Today, husband and wife team, Steve and Pam Graffice, is at the helm as the third generation of owners.
"We're in a small town, only 75 houses, and we don't even have our own post office," said Pam. "Yet we've sold to every state in the nation, and to Canada and overseas."
Tedrow Auto Wrecking specializes in recycled truck parts but also offers used auto parts, aftermarket parts, new trailer parts, structural steel and scrap. Warranties include 30 days on used, 90 days on rebuilt and a year on new parts. The business ships by UPS and freight carriers.
It also offers local delivery within 30 miles at no additional charge. Tedrow Auto Wrecking, located in the northwest corner of Ohio, also serves parts of Michigan and eastern Indiana.
There's not a lot of walk-in traffic in the tiny suburb so the Internet plays a large role in getting the word out about the business.
"That's one of my main jobs, handling the Internet," said Pam who starts her business day at 6 a.m., two hours before Tedrow Auto Wrecking officially opens. "We get 2,000 e-mails a day. These are leads as part of an e-mail subscription service, called U Need A Part (UNeedAPart.com). I don't have to answer every one, but it's important to look at them all. Each one is a potential sale. We also have an eBay store that is very successful."
In addition, the business does yellow page marketing within a 200-mile radius and places ads in local newspapers. To generate additional excitement, Pam and Steve have initiated some marketing promotions as well.
"Right now, if our customers spend $1,000, they get a $50 Visa gift card," said Pam. "It's been a very successful promotion. People really seem to like it; they can go out to dinner or spend it anyway they want."
In addition to growing a customer base, Pam and Steve are also very active in the auto recycling industry. He is a past president of the Ohio Auto & Truck Recyclers Association (OATRA); she is the incoming president for 2010.
"We've been members since the first official meeting back in 1975," she said. "It's a good group of people who work very hard to make our industry better. With OATRA, not only do you get a network of people who can answer questions and give you ideas, you get the information you need to stay on top of the industry. It provides legislative information. Our meetings and trade shows give us leads and teach us how to sell."
Pam started a trade show three years ago, which has been very well received. It features information from companies like James Environmental Management, Inc. and Auto Data Direct, Inc.
"We went from two exhibitors to 24 in just a couple of years," she said. "I try to keep it affordable and invite the exhibitors that would provide the most value for our members."
As OATRA president, Pam hopes to energize members about succeeding in automotive recycling.
Owners: Steve & Pam Graffice
Location: Wauseon, Ohio
Years In Business: 71
Number of Employees: 7