Maine Act

Aable Auto Parts Takes Top Billing



Siblings Lisa Mitchell and Gabe Miville continue their dad's goal (Bob Miville, left) to make Aable Auto Parts a top-notch facility.

PHOTO: SARAHCROSSPHOTOGRAPHY.COM

Aable Auto Parts, located in Chelsea, Maine, has come a long way since owner Bob Miville took over in 1982. The business used to be a typical junkyard; it dismantled vehicles outside, left engines and transmissions to rust on the ground and didn't have an inventory system. There wasn't even a bathroom. Miville, a former personnel director for a wholesale grocery company, wasn't deterred.

"If somebody were to take a facility like that, clean it up, organize it and get an inventory system, it would be a viable business as opposed to a junkyard," he explained.

Today, Aable Auto Parts (AableAutoParts.com) does everything right. It dismantles vehicles indoors, collects and recycles fluids, heats the facility with a waste oil furnace and removes and processes all mercury switches. Over the years, it has added new buildings including a two-story, 30-by-40 square foot office building in 2001. Miville is a founding member of both the Maine Auto Recyclers Association (MARA, MaineAutoRecyclers.org) and URG (U-R-G.com). He worked with the Maine Department of Environmental Protection on an educational video about mercury switch removal.

The accomplishments are impressive considering Miville had no prior auto recycling experience. His friend, Sonny Tisdale, approached him in 1980 about the facility. He bought in for 50 percent and then bought the other 50 percent two years later.

Miville's bold move shocked some, like his daughter, Lisa Mitchell, who now runs the office.

"I was quite surprised," she said. Mitchell remembered telling her fifth-grade class about her father's job as a personnel director. "He just loved his job and then a week later he quit and came out here."

But Miville's background gave him an advantage. His prior company was very organized and Miville had a lot of business training. In addition, less than six months after becoming the sole owner, he attended his first ARA convention in Atlantic City, N.J.

"After getting involved with ARA and seeing how it was environmentally conscious, it seemed like the right thing to do," Miville explained. "I don't think it takes much effort to do things in an environmentally-friendly way."

It is a philosophy now adhered to by Miville's children. Six months ago, Miville decided to step back from the business. He built a house and told Mitchell, and son Gabe Miville, to run the day-to-day operations during the construction. In the six months he was out, he only stopped at the business four times, and that was to haul debris to dumpsters.

"We work well together," said Mitchell. "Gabe's strengths are my weaknesses and vice versa. He makes sure the yard is organized and I handle the financial aspect of it. Between the two of us, we've got the bases covered."

Mitchell said she and Gabe understand how important the business is to their father and work to keep his legacy intact.

"It's family," she said. "He's my dad. We want to continue this, to ensure his future and show respect. He's poured his heart and soul into this place."

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