Birth Rite

Family Is First At Morrison's Auto In Wisconsin



Robert Jr., Jackie, Erin, Julie, Bill, Robbie and Bea (Inside) with the company's police cruiser, originally purchased for a burn-out competition.

PHOTO: STUDIO 115 PHOTOGRAPHY

Morrison's Auto, Inc. is family all the way. Robert Morrison Sr. founded the Edgerton, Wis. auto recycling facility in 1958. It employs 13 family members, including four of his six children - managers Robert Morrison Jr. (maintenance), Bill Morrison (buying / administration), Julie Morrison Koepp (shipping) and Jackie Morrison Hansen (inventory). Several of Robert Sr.'s grandchildren are also employed there, including managers Erin Koepp Johnson (accounting) and Robbie Koepp (sales).

"It couldn't be any better working with family. We love it," Bill acknowledged. "We hear about a lot of other businesses that struggle with it. Does it have its challenges? You bet it does, but it is well worth the price."

Bill and his siblings have steadily grown the business since their father died in 1998. During the last 10 years the staff doubled, the number of dismantling bays doubled and the daily delivery routes quadrupled.

"The biggest change we've seen is probably our yard management system," Bill stated. "We've switched from Hollander to the Pinnacle system."

Robbie suggested the yard management switch in 2008. The upgrade shook some of the managing family members.

"I compare it to when Uncle Billy put in Hollander in 1994 and my grandpa left for a week and didn't come back," laughed Robbie. "When I put in Pinnacle Professional, I was already scheduling Billy's time off. But he hung in there."

"The third generation embraces technology a lot better than us older people do," Bill admitted. "That's definitely what Erin and Robbie bring to the table."

In the last five years since Erin and Robbie have been managers, Morrison's Auto has added Facebook and Twitter pages, installed a live chat function for its web site (MorrisonsAuto.com) and integrated Wi-Fi throughout the yard.

"The loader has a laptop and our yard guy has a laptop. Everything is live with Pinnacle and Pinnacle Professional," added Robbie. "All the orders are routed right to who needs to pull it, without somebody having to do it on paper. We are probably 90 percent paperless. We don't print anything but invoices now."

It wasn't always easy to get staff on board with the upgrades.

"With so many family members involved, you get people that are excited about change, those that know it has to happen and some that are like 'Oh no, that's not going to work'," Robbie explained. "Eventually everyone decides to go with it, it does work and it gets easier over the years to persuade everyone to spend the money to make everyone run smoother."

Just like the family matriarch, Bea Morrison, Robert Sr.'s wife - who at 74 still comes in daily to make the rounds and talk to the employees - the family does not intend to slow down. Soon a second Morrison's Auto location will open in Madison, Wis. It is a storefront to sell the facility's parts, plus aftermarket parts.

"Something we've had on our backburner for a few years is to acquire another yard and this will allow us to get our feet wet with a second location," Bill announced. "Maybe in another five years we will be able to do another full-service yard."

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