The Harrows' Green Return To The Industry
Neil Harrow, former owner of Michael Auto Parts, stands in his impressive, new auto recycling facility, GreenStar Auto Recyclers.
Neil Harrow could be living the good life right now; traveling to exotic places or spending lazy days with a new hobby. After all, that’s what retirement is all about. Instead, he’s back to work.
“My wife and I did travel for about five years,” he admitted. “But I couldn’t leave the industry altogether. It was always in the back of my mind.”
Neil and Sharon Harrow owned and operated Michael Auto Parts, in Orlando, Fla., for 27 years before accepting an offer from LKQ Corporation. The coupled decided it was the right time to retire. It wasn’t.
“I missed the industry,” said Neil. “I thought coming back would be a new challenge.”
This time, he wanted to use a unique recycling startup.
“It’s a concept I worked on for about three years,” he said. “I wanted a small operation that could be successfully run with less than 15 employees.”
GreenStar Auto Recyclers’ name is because of its environmental, or “green,” focus and because all of the employees are stars.
Neil and Sharon found 2.5- acre’s that was environmentallyclean, zoned for heavy industrial and on a major highway.
“This piece of land never had anything but a house on it,” he said. “We constructed a 17,500-square-foot building with 4,000- square-feet of office space and another 4,000-square-foot dismantling bay.”
The state-of-the-art building - which resembles a beautifully designed office building - prompts favorable reactions, according to Neil. “It immediately conveys that we’re different,” he said.
Now open a year, GreenStar Auto Recyclers processes about 125 vehicles a month, or between 1,200 and 1,300 vehicles per year. In comparison, Michael Auto Parts handled more than 4,000 cars annually when the Harrows managed it. GreenStar Auto Recyclers hits its number with fewer than 15 employees, while Michael’s has more than 60.
Interestingly enough, half of the GreenStar Auto Recyclers employees came from Michael Auto Parts, a testament to the Harrows’ dedication and leadership.
There are other similarities but GreenStar Auto Recyclers is not simply a “mini” Michael Auto Parts, even though both facilities carry all makes and models.
“Our slogan says it best,” stated Neil. “GreenStar is the art of recycling. We’re taking recycling to the next level, with a small, efficient and environmentally sensitive model that could be used in multiple city locations.”
The only real change the Harrows have noticed since reentering the industry is the problem of sourcing salvage.
“That’s a challenge not just for us, but for everyone in the industry,” said Neil. “With so many customers competing for cars at the auctions, it’s hard to get good recyclables.”
But that won’t slow down the Harrows. “Our goal is to get this facility up and running, and then move the concept to other city locations,” he added.
The Harrows will showcase GreenStar Auto Recyclers to the industry this October. As hosts of the ARA 69th Annual Convention & Expo barbecue.