GRAND DESIGN

Ted Smith's Business Model Works



Ted Smith's business plan includes multiple facets of the auto recycling industry that seamlessly work together.

PHOTO: DICK DE LOACH

Thirty-one years ago, Ted Smith Jr. and his father, Ted Smith Sr. (now retired), thought an auto recycling business would be a nice investment. After a good friend, Glenn McElroy, former owner of Pick Your Part Auto Wrecking, Anaheim, Calif., gave them a lead on a one-acre, Wilmington facility, they bought it. Soon after the business incorporated, with McElroy becoming a partner, they added a second Wilmington facility. For about a decade, Smith worked part-time at both facilities while working full-time as plant manager for Sparkletts drinking water. When a move up the corporate ladder meant Smith's part-time involvement could be in jeopardy, he said goodbye to the water company.

"I liked what I was doing and didn't want to take that next step with Sparkletts," explained Smith. "I said it's time for me to see how I can do on my own."

In two decades, Smith went from operating on one acre to more than 100 acres. Today, as president of Team Truck Dismantlers, Inc., he manages 240 employees at six facilities and several complimentary businesses, including Hardcore Transmission Parts that sells used transmission parts to U.S. rebuilders.

They purchased the California facilities Hillside Truck & Auto Recyclers (HillsideAutoSalvage.com) and Pick-A-Part in Riverside in 1988, the same year Smith left Sparkletts. Midnight Auto & Truck Recycler (MidnightAutoRecyclers.com) and San Bernardino Pick-A-Part in San Bernardino were purchased in 1998 and Desert High Truck & Auto Recyclers and Hesperia Pick-A-Part in Hesperia in 2008.

Each location is both full- and self-service. Smith said it's a business model that just makes sense. It allows him to get the most from his advertising dollars and simplifies his buying.

"It's my philosophy to have both," explained Smith. "They work well together."

In addition to that symbiotic relationship, Smith leases 10 acres of his Hesperia business to Insurance Auto Auctions. In 2010, he began the process of opening Waterman Automotive Service Center near the San Bernardino facility, which will specialize in transmissions and air conditioning. It will also service Smith's fleet of more than 40 vehicles.

Smith has been a member of the State of California Auto Dismantlers Association (SCADA) since his start. In 2009, he became the group's president. He said, "I'm glad I did. This industry has been very good to me."

"Ted recognizes the value of an active trade association and he has worked tirelessly to bring in new members," added Martha Cowell, SCADA executive director. "He brings great ideas to the table and works hard to implement them."

That includes a 2009 SCADA-sponsored bill that now allows the Department of Motor Vehicles to check the validity of an auto recycling application.

Jeff Buchanan, owner, BW Auto Dismantlers, Roseville, Calif. and SCADA vice president said, "Ted has influenced me as a recycler by  being very sharing of both his ideas and operations tactics. I couldn't have learned the ropes from a better leader."

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