Lifelong Friends Take The Helm at DVAP
A passion for classic cars inspires Brian and Jason McClure, along with the entire staff at Desert Valley Auto Parts.
Photo by: www.shef1.com
When Brian Smyth and Jason McClure were 14 years old, one of their favorite activities was to play tag among the cars in the recycling yard. Fast forward to adulthood and they’re still running around the yard - this time in a more official capacity, as co-owners of Desert Valley Auto Parts in Phoenix, Ariz. It’s been a journey propelled by a lifelong passion for cars and a powerful friendship.
Desert Valley Auto Parts, affection-ately known as DVAP, is a family business founded in 1993 by Jason’s brother and sister. Jason and Brian worked there from day one. They both were part owners within a couple of years and took over the helm when Jason’s siblings bowed out of the business.
Today Brian and Jason oversee a business that specializes in the near impossible - hard-to-find classic cars and car parts from the 1980s back to about the teens. It’s apparently not that difficult for the dynamic duo. “We have such a great inventory already that we carry most of the parts people need,” noted Jason, who used his birth year, 1975 as a loose parameter for the upper end of the vehicle years they carry.
Searching For Vehicles
DVAP operates on two lots - a main facility in the Deer Valley area north of downtown Phoenix and a second facility south of Phoenix in Casa Grande, Ariz. The business sources cars and parts from auctions in the region, including New Mexico, Utah and Colorado. Brian and Jason also get leads on classic cars hidden in folks’ backyards or garages from garbage men and postal workers, who receive finder’s fees or a tee-shirt for their help.
“I actually got a pilot’s license so that I could search for cars from the air,” said Jason. “Flying is a great hobby, and there’s the benefit of being able to find cars for the business.” Jason takes note of where he sees the vehicles, and then he returns to the area by car and knocks on doors. “There are certain rules we follow, though,” he said. “We don’t go on Sundays, for example, because people are at church and don’t want to do business.”
Even if it’s a part that customers think DVAP can’t handle, it’s worth a call, according to Jason. “We don’t handle foreign parts, but chances are that we can make a phone call and get you the part that you need, and maybe save you some time searching for it.”
It’s clear that this is a business near and dear to Jason’s heart. He credits his father, Ron McClure, for his love of cars. “Dad has been in the wrecking business since 1967. I grew up at the wrecking yard, playing and helping until I was old enough to work there.”
“Jason didn’t just work for his dad; he lived in that yard,” said Brian. “Being around it so much, Jason found his niche and it was second nature. When you see him work with the cars, it’s like watching a finely tuned machine. He got a lot of it from his dad.”
DVAP On Screen
Jason now sells cars to his father, who continues to be involved in various aspects of the automotive industry. The father-son team enjoys restoring cars, and they even did a stint on TV back in 2011. “We had an hour-long show on the Discovery Channel called “Desert Car Kings” that’s now in reruns,” said Jason. “It was a lot of fun, and helped us get the word out about our business. If the show is airing, we’ll usually see an increase in customers that day.”
It may have been that visibility that landed them a larger gig. DVAP is featured in the most recent Transformers movie. “They were looking for a wrecking yard, and after they presented the plan, we agreed,” said Brian. “We had to close down for about three to four weeks. There was a guard out front and stars on site. I brought my son, who was seven at the time, and he got to sit in the director’s chair. It was a cool and surreal experience.”
“We rented out a whole theatre for the premiere,” said Jason. “We actually timed it, and we were on screen for about 15 minutes.”
There are still props from the movie onsite at DVAP, and people will come in and take pictures. It only adds to the success of the business. “We have built a brand,” acknowledged Jason. “People tend to call us now if they want classic parts.”
The brand extends to the company’s online presence, which evokes the same classic feel. Importantly, it also carries this warning to folks buying recycled parts: “Clean does not mean new. Clean does not mean perfect ‘10’ condition. Clean does not mean free of imperfections such as dings. Clean does not mean a part you won’t need to put a minute’s time into.”
The section was written by Jason’s brother, who was a computer whiz back in the 1990s. “We were one of the first yards on the Internet,” said Jason. “At the time, I couldn’t see how computers and cars connected. Now everything is online.”
As for the future, the sky’s the limit for DVAP - considering the passion at the helm of the business. “I grew up in this business,” said Jason. “It’s also my hobby. I’ve restored 60 cars myself and I sell them from time to time. I truly love coming to work every day.”
Added Brian, “Being able to work with my best friend, all the things that come along with being friends, and being together in this adventure, I couldn’t imagine not working here.”