Crabtree Auto Is A Site To See

The son and father team of Clay and Colin Crabtree keep Crabtree Auto a thriving family business.


When it comes to running an auto recycling business in a town that has sprung up all around you, the rules of kids’ games like “I was here first!” do not apply.

Crabtree Auto is the oldest business in the Riverdale, Utah-area, just outside of Ogden, Utah. Dahl Crabtree and his five brothers originally founded the business in 1945 in Logan, Utah as a bicycle repair business. Over time, the business evolved to repairing vehicles and then transformed again into a salvage company. In 1947, Crabtree Auto moved to Riverdale, Utah, and Dahl became the sole business owner. “Eventually it narrowed down to just him,” Dahl’s son and current Crabtree Auto co-owner Colin Crabtree explained.

Crabtree Auto was founded as a family business, and it continues to be that today. Dahl ran Crabtree Auto for several years until his two sons, Colin and Miles, were ready to take over. However, before Dahl ceded the reins, Colin and Miles were already involved. Like most family-run businesses, Colin explained that he was involved with the company since he was a kid. He came on as an official employee as soon as he was of age. “I’ve been here as long as I can remember,” he added.

Colin and Miles both had sons of their own who also worked in the business. Colin’s son Clay basically grew up with the company, he said. Clay officially started with the company right after high school and over the past 18 years, has worked his way up to management. Miles retired two years ago transitioned Clay to become co-owner. But the role of co-owner was not just handed over to him when his uncle retired, Clay stressed. “It was something I had to work for.”

A modern business area now surrounds Crabtree Auto because the city of Riverdale has grown around it. So, keeping an organized yard that is pleasing to the eye is top priority. Colin and Clay have to be inventive on how to keep things orderly in the company’s limited space of four and half acres (which shrank from more than seven acres back in 1989 when the new road came through).

“The first thing you notice about our facility is its pristine nature,” Colin explained. “We have our vehicles on car trees (four to six high) because of our small size.” Although the reduction in yard size might sound like a setback to many, Colin sees the upside to it, “It was a positive, because we upgraded then too.”

Crabtree Auto is a full-service facility with 70 percent of its business as wholesale. It offers standard-, extended- and labor and time-extension warranties on all its parts. The Internet has allowed Crabtree Auto to expand beyond the confines of its yard to sell and ship parts all over the country. But, as Colin pointed out, serving the local area has always been the company’s first priority. It offers high-quality parts mostly from mid-size late-model vehicles, with the most competitive pricing done locally.

Crabtree Auto also offers free delivery within a 40-mile radius and the charges are split for delivery outside of that local area. The company ships nationwide through UPS, FedEx, or whichever shipping company offers the best deal for the customer. Colin mentioned that parts have been shipped as far away as Hawaii and Alaska and that it is not uncommon to see the price of shipping surpass the price of the part itself.

Colin also credits the Internet with helping the company forge relationships with other like-minded salvage yards, whose priority is also selling high-quality, late-model parts. “You can see everyone else’s inventory right along with yours,” he stated. This means that if Crabtree Auto does not have the part a customer is looking for, they are able to find it.

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