Allgeier Auto Cleans Up Junkyard Image
Owner Mike Allgeier (front) and Manager Kevin Walsh (back) have worked for more than 10 years to clean up the site.
The story of Allgeier Auto Parts, Inc. (www.allgeierautoparts.com), can be told in “before” and “after” photos.
During the “before” era - the years prior to 2007 - the Cincinnati, Ohio yard was a typical “junkyard,” said Manager Kevin Walsh.
“Everything was just scattered everywhere,” he said. “It was a muddy, farmer’s field. There was no sense of order with any of the cars.”
After a major cleanup and organization, which started in 2007 and is still ongoing, the yard has been completely transformed.
“On a scale of one to 10, it’s 1,000 percent better,” Walsh said. “But we’re still not finished.”
The Allgeier property has been the site of a salvage yard since the 1940s. The previous owner took over in 1964. The current owner, Mike Allgeier, took over in 1999.
Walsh joined the company in 2002, despite having no experience in the salvage industry. He had spent 24 years working as a technician for refrigerated trailers and trucks, but he had known the Allgeier family since high school.
“This job became available, and Mike knew he could trust me,” he said. “I’m glad I did make the move. I enjoy it. I like it. It’s different.”
Building The Business
When Kevin first arrived, the company was “struggling to make ends meet.” His first improvement was to hire three highly experienced counterpeople, who turned things around.
“They had about 100 years of experience between them,” he said. “Things started picking up. They knew how to buy cars. We started slowly building up.”
By 2007, the company was ready to start making improvements.
“We were making more money and had more money to do extra things,” Walsh explained.
Walsh and his team had their work cut out for them. The previous owners had filled a 30- to 40-foot hole in the back of the property with scrap and thousands of old tires, which took nearly a year to remove. The scrap filled 35 40-foot dumpsters, and the tires filled five trailers.
“That was one of the major hurdles,” Walsh said. “It was an undertaking.”
Major Cleanup Efforts
The rest of the yard underwent a complete cleanup. Now all of the vehicles are organized in “nice, neat, orderly, precise rows,” and all of the rows are labeled, Walsh said.
The company is also buying fewer cars to help keep the yard organized.
“We were buying everything that came in, and we couldn’t process everything,” Walsh said. “We needed to scale back to just the late-model, newer stuff. We’re being picky and choosier on what we’re buying. It’s not the quantity of cars. It’s the quality of cars.”
The parking lot, front of the building, and the office also received complete makeovers. The parking lot is now fully concrete. The front of the building was refaced and received new windows, new doors, and an awning.
“We get a lot of compliments, as far as the appearance of the front of the building and our office,” Walsh said. “We have a nice tile floor, nice countertops. The office is freshly painted. You don’t think you’re walking into a salvage facility. People will say, ‘Boy, you’ve changed this a lot.’ It’s very appealing and has an overall better appearance.”
Networking Pays Off
Walsh said he got many ideas for the improvements from other yard owners. Allgeier Auto participates in a Car-Part Roundtable, a group of 10 to 15 yards. Every spring or fall, members will gather at a different member yard, take a tour, interview employees, and generate ideas on how the owner can improve the business. The Roundtable visited Allgeier in 2011.
But even nine years in, the company makeover is not finished. Walsh said they’re working on organizing their warehouse and on elevating part of the yard to prevent flooding. The yard has been prone to floods, which have hit in 2004, 2005, and 2009.
“And once the back area is finished,” Walsh said, “we’ll go through the office again.”
His advice to other recyclers who want to attempt a yard makeover?
“You can’t do it overnight,” he said. “You have to take baby steps.”