A New President Takes The Reins

Mike Waterbury, newly appointed president of the family business, Sandhill Auto Salvage in Tama, Iowa, is making rapid-fire changes.


The beginning of a new decade brought several changes to Sandhill Auto Salvage, located in Tama, Iowa. The most notable was the passing of the presidential torch from Joe Waterbury to his son, Mike Waterbury. After 40 years of owning Sandhill Auto Salvage, Joe decided it was time for retirement and sold the family business to his son Mike and Mitzi, Mike's wife. Mike's lifelong goal was to purchase the business from his father. With that goal now met, he has set many new goals in an effort to make Sandhill Auto Salvage the best it can be.

Just three months into his new job as president of the company, Mike has hit the ground running. He already has a laundry list of the improvements made to the auto recycling facility. He implemented a new inventory system, Checkmate, in an effort to increase the efficiency and organization of the facility, drafted and distributed a new employee handbook, and installed a new phone system. The old phone system, in place since 1993, was losing calls, so a change to a new system was necessary. As with any change, there must also be adaptation. "It's a new learning curve, but we're getting through it," said Mike.

Although the position of president is new to Mike, working at Sandhill Auto Salvage (SandhillAutoSalvage.com) is not. He has been a full time employee at the business since 1990, but has worked there, as he puts it, "basically all of my life."

"I probably started there when I was 8 or 10," he divulged.

Mike has taken the leadership position at Sandhill Auto Salvage but Joe is still on hand and works mostly half days. Although, when a decision needs to be made, Joe now defers to Mike.

As if Mike is not busy enough with his new job leading Sandhill Auto Salvage, he also took the position of Iowa Automotive Recyclers (IAR) president. His two-year term started in October 2009. Right off, the new Iowa Certified Automotive Recyclers Environmental (I-CARE) program was in his lap. I-CARE, managed by environmental consultant Sue Schauls, is the IAR-required certification program. It has similar requirements to ARA's Certified Auto Recyclers (CAR) program.

"We had five Iowa yards become ARA CAR members at the convention in Kentucky," said Mike. "Sue Schauls really went above and beyond with I-CARE."

Schauls and IAR Immediate Past President Mike Swift, owner of Trail's End Auto & Truck Salvage, Inc. (TrailsEndAuto.com), got the ball rolling on I-CARE.

Swift said he is enthusiastic about the association's progress and is confident in Mike's role as president. "Mike has been around forever and he's doing a great job."

Mike has the support of Swift and other past presidents like his father Joe who served as IAR president from 1983 to 1985. Mike said, "[My dad] is the go-to-guy with any concerns or questions."

Likewise, Mike revealed, "Mike Swift has done such an excellent job with [IAR]. It's pretty hard to fill his shoes."

Joe said he also has a lot of confidence in Mike. "He's made a lot of changes that I hope will benefit the business. He's doing well."

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