A Father's Legacy Continues
Ben Silver and Jeff Silver have taken their father's business, Central Foreign Auto Parts, Inc., to the next level.
PHOTO: GERALD SCHUSTER
Ben Silver and Jeff Silver, co-owners of Central Foreign Auto Parts, Inc. in Denver, Colo., never worked on vehicles or willingly hung around their dad's auto recycling facility. In truth, they weren't planning on going into the family business at all.
"Most kids who grow up at an auto recycling yard learn to break down tires by age 11," explained Ben, now co-owner and president of the business his father, Larry Silver, started in 1977. "Our path was completely different. We didn't choose to be here."
"I worked summers," added Jeff, co-owner and production manager. "I would do odd jobs, sweep or take out the trash. When I was older, I was a delivery driver."
All that changed in 2004 when Larry got sick. Ben was set to graduate from Colorado State University with a business degree when he heard the news.
"My father told us that he had leukemia," he explained. "I was on the path to get into business of some sort. He sat down with us and said, 'I want you to step in and take over the business.' It was a proud moment but at the same time I was nervous. I was 22 years old with no experience."
Jeff felt the same way. He was set on becoming a teacher and basketball coach.
Before Larry died in 2005, he gave Jeff and Ben a crash course in the business from his hospital room. The brothers also received hands-on experience from Larry's second in command, Don Eccles.
"Don is general manager," explained Jeff. "Quite honestly, Ben and I would have been lost without him. He taught us what we needed to know. Even today, we'll go to him if there's something we don't understand or don't know how to handle."
Larry first got into automotive recycling with help from friend Norman Wright, owner of Stadium Auto & Truck Parts, Inc. also in Denver, Colo.
"They put their heads together and rented a little corner of Norman's yard for about a year," recalled Ben. "After a year or two, my dad bought him out and moved the business."
Since its inception, Central Foreign Auto Parts (CentralForeign.com) has built a reputation for quality. Each part is inspected via a four-point process and graded. They are then washed upon purchase. Engines and transmissions are run tested.
The brothers worked hard to take the business to the next level and it shows. Last year was Central Foreign Auto Parts' first $3 million year.
"With the economy, we've had to be as efficient as possible," noted Jeff. "We've changed a lot of our procedures and our staff to improve efficiency. We're working on changing our entire dismantling process. We want to streamline the removal of engines and transmissions so they're ready to be shipped."
Each year a golf tournament is held in Larry's memory and the funds donated to cancer research. The last tournament, held June 16, 2010, was the fifth annual.
"Dad would have been proud," said Ben. "The money we raise is helping people get through tough times. Dad always said everyone deserves respect."