62 Auto Salvage Sets The Example
Owners Chris and Tracy Sargent.
It’s not easy being green. But Chris Sargent will tell you it is very worthwhile. The owner of Hwy. 62 Auto Salvage & Sales, Inc. (www.62autoparts.com) in Fayetteville, Ark., prides himself on running a green business in an industry that naturally is built on the recycle / re-use mindset.
“If your only goal was profit, you would do it a lot differently,” he said. “It’s a lot more expensive to be environmentally responsible, but it is the right thing to do.”
Experienced in many aspects of the automotive industry, Chris has managed dealerships, car lots and salvage yards. He was manager of a competitive yard in town owned by LKQ before he moved on to Hwy. 62 Auto Salvage & Sales. After a couple of years managing the place, he bought the 40-year-old business. His wife Tracy runs the administrative office.
Today, Hwy. 62 Auto Salvage & Sales specializes in parts for foreign and domestic vehicles in the 5 to 10 year-old range. Set on approximately 10 acres, the business processes 750 - 1,000 vehicles annually for parts, as well as cars and trucks of any age for scrap. It also sells rebuildable vehicles, as well as used cars.
It’s a lot to manage, while getting the environmental part of it right, but Chris faces another challenge that many of his competitors do not, and that’s Hwy. 62 Auto Salvage & Sales’ location. Whereas many auto recyclers locate in rural areas, the business is right in the middle of the city.
“Fayetteville, Arkansas is a very environmentally-friendly city,” he said. “There are bike paths, trees and parks. You’re part of a very visible green environment and you have to respect that. We spend a lot of money to make sure that we have as minimal an impact as possible on the environment. You could run things a lot cheaper in a remote location when you’re not dealing with pavement and concrete. Everything has to be contained.”
Chris credits his military background and stint in the Navy for having some influence on his detailed and thorough approach. “I like things super clean and organized,” he said. “I’ve heard from other recyclers, as well as from Perry Harston, who helps us with EPA issues, that we have one of the cleanest yards in Arkansas. In fact, we’ve been able to obtain an exemption on our storm water requirements because we have been clean for so many years.”
He doesn’t follow a formal program but rather has created his own comprehensive approach. “I’ve managed small yards, big yards and compiled a list of best practices,” he said. “You learn how to store batteries, collect oil, arrange vehicles for parts, and do the hundreds of necessary things to comply with environmental standards. Some of this you learn by osmosis, and some because you’re involved in the industry. You go to lots of meetings, and do a lot of yard tours. You see what other people are doing. You get advice from the experts. Then you modify it to fit your specific situation.”
Chris doesn’t just give lip service to his involvement in the industry. Currently, he’s president of the Arkansas Automotive Dismantlers and Recyclers Association (AADRA) through the summer of 2017. His environmental focus is part of his legacy, but he’s also tuned into the key issues affecting his business and those of his peers.
“Some of the biggest issues that we’re facing are that salvage auctions are open to the public,” he said. “Also, scrap prices are another big challenge right now. We’re trying to fight but there’s a lot of consolidation. As the LKQs of the world take over mom and pop businesses, there are fewer and fewer of us. The only way to compete is to stick together and work together. That’s why it’s so important to join and be active in the association. We hope to get everybody out to our next trade show in 2017.”
He encourages recyclers to get involved, and quoted President Abraham Lincoln for inspiration. “The best way to predict your future is to create it.”