Hy Tech

The Hybrid Experts At Adopt A Part



Eric Sumpter, owner, is testing a hybrid battery with digital readouts at Adopt A Part in Denver, Colo.

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Technological expertise and a love for cars drove Eric Sumpter to purchase Adopt A Part, a Denver auto recycling business with a unique focus. Adopt A Part is a full-service facility that specializes in import vehicles - with an emphasis on hybrids. It is the only recycling yard in the Denver area - and among just a few in the nation - to focus on hybrid vehicles.

“We believe in being specialized,” explained Sumpter, who is also president of the Colorado Automotive Recyclers Association, Inc. (CAR). “Picking something that’s important in your market and being good at it is a winning strategy for smaller recyclers.”

Sumpter came to the auto recycling industry with a degree in industrial engineering from Colorado State University and a strong background in technology and electronics. He worked for Dell computer and served as chief operating officer of a data-storage product company before deciding he wanted to start his own business.

“I’ve been a car nut my whole life, so the automotive industry was kind of a natural fit for me,” he said.

In December 2008, Sumpter and his wife, Kathy, purchased Adopt A Part, a 3.5-acre auto recycling facility that’s served the Denver area since 1987. Sumpter was interested in hybrid vehicles from the beginning, so he and several of his employees took a training course at a local community college to learn the ins and outs of hybrid dismantling.

Very soon, the company began to focus on dismantling hybrids, as well as rebuilding hybrid batteries and transaxles. In January 2012, Sumpter launched Mile Hybrid Automotive, Denver’s only hybrid service and repair facility. Operating alongside Adopt A Part, Mile Hybrid offers installation, repair and diagnostic work. Business is so brisk that Sumpter said Mile Hybrid will likely move to its own location soon.

Sumpter’s advice to other recyclers interested in hybrids? If a recycler plans to dismantle just a few hybrid vehicles now and then, Sumpter said, it’s fairly easy to get some simple, basic safety training through an online course.

“But if you want to make (hybrid vehicles) a big part of your business, you really need to get the technical training and invest in the diagnostic tools,” Sumpter explained.

These auto recyclers will need to seek out intensive, specialized training, such as a course offered by a community college or a hybrid training school. Travel might be required if the training is not offered locally.

“It takes an investment,” Sumpter added. “Hybrid cars are very different. There are safety hazards and technical complexities you need to deal with if you’re going to get into hybrids in a big way.”

Sumpter stressed that it’s essential to be able to correctly diagnose a customer’s problem to get him, or her, the correct part. Adopt A Part guarantees all of its electrical hybrid parts, as long as the company’s technicians are able to confirm the customer’s diagnosis.

“You can’t apply a traditional electrical parts return policy,” Sumpter said.

Adopt A Part will continue to focus on new technology, including the electric Chevrolet Volt. Although there hasn’t yet been a demand for Volt parts, Sumpter said he plans to start buying them within the next year or so.

“Whatever is next,” he said, “we want to be first.”

An Adopt A Part employee tests a battery onboard a hybrid vehicle.

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