PARTS RUSH

Pull-A-Thon Is A Success



PHOTO: COURTESY OF PIC-A-PART

The scene at Pic-A-Part Used Auto & Truck Parts in Indianapolis, Ind. on July 11, 2010 may have resembled a chaotic free-for-all as hundreds of vehicles were stripped relentlessly all day, but the activities were planned and well advertised.

Sherri Heckenast, owner and manager of the self-service facility, said word of the second annual Pull-A-Thon got around quickly. A line of people waited to get into the yard before the event started at 7 a.m.

"We put flyers out, and I got a zillion questions every day about it," she said. "I got there at 5 a.m., and people were parked in-line. One guy said he was there at midnight. We ended up having twice as many people there as we had last year."

Once customers gained admission - which Heckenast noted was free and took about an hour - participants in the Pull-A-Thon started pulling parts off vehicles. Anything the customer could carry 20 feet was theirs to keep for a flat price of $39.99.

Customers were required to use their own tools but could not bring jacks or torches. However, event staff provided a half-hour of torch service for $25 and wheel barrels as available.

Heckenast said customers used numerous techniques to carry a wide assortment of parts, including the use of seatbelts to strap parts to their body.

"The entire yard is wiped out of seatbelts; that's how they carry them," she added. "One guy carried a bunch of different headlights wrapped around his body." She also noted that another man used them to strap doors to each arm.

Heckenast held a Pull-A-Thon event at A-Reliable Auto Parts & Wreckers, Inc. in Blue Island, Ill. before her parents, Frank and Michelle Heckenast Sr. sold the business to LKQ Corporation in 2007. She said she thought holding a similar event would give Indianapolis residents an opportunity to see what Pic-A-Part Used Auto & Truck Parts (IndyPicAPart.com) has to offer.

"There's not a lot of self-service in Indianapolis," she said. "It was a good chance for people to see what we have. I wouldn't call it a moneymaker because everything is gone at the end of the day. It's the return [of customers] over the year that makes us money."

Participants received a free T-shirt, which Heckenast said amounted to a couple thousand shirts this year. Pic-A-Part Used Auto & Truck Parts currently employs 19 workers, all of which were on hand for the event. They served hot dogs, hamburgers, chips and drinks throughout the entire day. Staffers also helped with the extensive amount of cleanup required.

"We didn't get all of the people out [of the facility] until 9:30 p.m., even though we were only open until 7 p.m.," Heckenast said. "For us it was a lot of work. It takes two weeks to clean the yard afterwards; it's trashed. [But] it's fun for the employees."

The Pull-A-Thon is held on the second weekend of July.

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