Nationwide Auto Recycling Saves With Solar Energy

The Warilas: Alex, Dan, Karyn & Daniel

John Lenis Photography

What do you do when you are faced with the worst winter in recorded history? Well, if you’re Dan Warila, owner of Nationwide Auto Recycling LLC in Lancaster, Mass., the solution is to install solar panels on the roof of your giant building. Dan has spent his entire life in the auto recycling business, an industry that by definition is one committed to sustaining a greener planet, so he wasn’t about to let a little record snowfall get in his way.

So when Select Solar, a solar energy equipment supplier, came knocking, Dan took the opportunity to upgrade his business with an improvement that would make a huge impact on both the environment and his bottom line.

“We were always trying to go green,” he explained. “It came about that a company came in and offered us a way to positively pay for all of our electric. We put 600 solar panels on the roof at a cost of $550,000 and now it powers all my electrical needs.”

While the initial investment might seem steep, Dan pointed out that he’s estimated to have a five-year payback.

“Our electricity bill was about $4,000 per month because the building is so large,” he said. The company’s main building is 60,000 square-feet. “It takes a lot of lights and the entire building is air conditioned. My guys are out there working with the air conditioning running. We spoil them a little.”

In addition to harnessing the sun’s energy, Dan implemented some other methods to keep Nationwide Auto Recycling clean, green and efficient. All waste oil is burned, which heats about a third of the building. Electric heaters were installed in other areas to further make use of the solar power.

“The fuel we drain we put in our delivery vehicles and give to the employees. I don’t think anybody here buys fuel,” he added. “Also, we don’t have any Speedi-Dri on the property. We don’t let oil hit the ground. We capture it before it hits the ground. We’ve trained our employees not to spill any oil versus spill the oil then pick it up. With the electricity, heat, and fuel, I think we’ve done a lot to go green.”

The Warilas’ first foray into the world of auto recycling came in 1962 when Dan’s father, Bruce Warila, opened ABC Used Auto Parts in Leominster, Mass. Bruce went on to open two more auto recycling facilities, United Auto Recycling in Lancaster and B & D Used Auto Parts in Shirley. Dan started to work for his dad at ABC Used Auto Parts while he still in high school and took reins at B & D Used Auto Parts once he finished school. The three yards were owned and operated by the Warila family until 1999, when Ford Motor Company bought them out.

The next few years for Dan was spent running New England’s largest flea market, which was housed in a 60,000-square-foot building that Dan built. But it wasn’t long until it was time to get back into the auto recycling business. In 2002, Dan and his wife Karyn bought an old junkyard located next door to the flea market.

“Dan, the boys, and myself worked cleaning out the yard,” Karyn recalled. The couple’s sons, Daniel and Alex, now help run the business. “The boys would be covered in grease from all the scrap parts they had to move. It took a lot of work, but we were proud to see the business we were able to make from that purchase.”

Nationwide Auto Recycling opened its doors in 2005, the same year Dan sold the flea market next door. A few years later, opportunity knocked and Dan was able to buy back the flea market and used its huge building for auto recycling, which is where Nationwide Auto Recycling is today.

“We had to move 1,500 cars from one property to the next. Granted they were abutting, but it was still a chore,” Alex related. “We then had the opportunity to take the 60,000-square-foot building and outfit it for auto recycling.”

The flea market building was transformed into current facility from the ground up. It received all new racking, lifts, offices, etc.

“I set the building up the way I wanted it from scratch,” Alex added. “We did right. We did it brand new. It was a big process, but it paid off in the long run.”

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