Central City Auto Parts
Frank Marra was an auto recycler before the industry had regulations. When he founded Central City Auto Parts in 1926, cheap salvage was not hard to come by. After selling the tires and tubes for $2 - $5 each, he would usually scrap the leftover parts of the vehicle. It was an efficient operation.
Central City Auto Parts - which was originally located in downtown Syracuse, N.Y. - was so successful Frank soon needed more space, so he purchased 62 acres in east Syracuse, N.Y. for a new facility.
"Everything went smoothly until World War II," said Patrick Marra Jr., Frank's grandson, and current owner and president of Central City Auto Parts (CentralCity.cc). "That's when the headaches began."
Regulations Spur Action
At the time, there were around 3,000 vehicles at Central City Auto Parts, and the metal from those autos was in strong demand by the United States government to use for the war effort. Soon, the government regulated the auto recycling industry. Every vehicle at Frank's business had to go to scrap, regardless of age or condition.
The new regulations affected Frank's business, which may have been the impetus for him to help form the National Auto Wreckers Association in 1961. He also helped form the New York State Auto & Truck Dismantlers Association, now known as the Automotive Recyclers Association of New York (ARANY.com).
Patrick Marra Sr. picked up where his father, Frank, left off. He served as president of ARANY in the late 1960s and early 1970s.
"My dad [Patrick Sr.] was very active in the industry and took over the business when my grandfather retired," said Patrick Jr. Frank died in 1981.
Since he grew up around the business, it was somewhat surprising for Patrick Jr. when his father sold Central City Auto Parts in 1987.
"We closed for a couple years," he added. "But it was in the back of my mind; this is a family legacy, the oldest licensed dismantler in New York."
Marra Family Come Back
So Patrick Jr. kept looking for opportunities to restore the family business. In 1993, he bought a salvage yard in Central Square, N.Y. that was on the verge of bankruptcy. He turned it into a success, and the area proved to be an ideal location for Central City Auto Parts to continue its rich tradition. Patrick Sr., even at age 80, still makes appearances there on a daily basis as well.
"He'll even make some deliveries to catch up with old customers," added Patrick Jr.
Central City Auto Parts serves a customer base of about 65 percent wholesale and 35 percent retail. The business ships nationwide and offers free delivery within a 200-mile radius.
"Because of the Internet, we can reach out to a broader audience," said Patrick Jr. "Our eBay store helps us sell the oddball parts that sit on the shelf."
Patrick Jr. said he relies on the Pinnacle system to help him make stocking decisions.
"It used to be that a Chevy engine fit a Chevy," he added. "But today it depends on production dates and so on. Pinnacle takes the guesswork out of inventory."
The system has helped the business grow from two employees to seven, and sales have almost tripled since its installment, according to Patrick Jr.
The business' longevity in the auto recycling industry is also a plus.
"What differentiates our business is that we've been here since 1926," he said. "We've known most of our customers for decades. They know us, and our quality. They also know we're not going anywhere."
Owners: Patrick Marra Jr.
Location: Central Square, N.Y.
Years In Business: 85