Washington-Raised Recycler Settles In Texas
Angus Harris' Pacific Northwest skiing and fishing jobs set the stage for his Texas auto recycling career.
Photo: Steve Tremayne
There’s no place Angus Harris would rather be than on a ski slope. Unless of course that place is Mazda Nissan Heaven, the auto recycling business he has lovingly cultivated over the past couple of years in Fort Worth, Texas.
“Born and raised in Washington State, I grew up in the mountains,” explained Harris. “I was teaching skiing by the time I was 15 or 16. I became a divisional clinic leader and examiner for the Professional Ski Instructors of America and would give certification exams to the ski instructors.”
He attended Seattle University in Seattle, Wash. and earned a business administration and accounting degree. He skied, snowboarded and worked as a commercial fisherman to help pay for college. He started his first “real” job at a Honda and Toyota dealership in Seattle doing payroll and accounting. Four years later, he became office manager at Fitz Auto Parts in Woodinville, Wash. There, he quickly became the controller and network administrator.
When GreenLeaf Auto Recyclers bought the business in 2000, Harris found himself helping the company with other acquisitions.
“I ran American Auto Parts in Phoenix, Ariz. for a few months,” remembered Angus. “I also managed a couple of stores in Massachusetts, and ultimately was promoted to regional vice president over the northeast region.”
He was transferred to GreenLeaf Auto Recyclers headquarters in Arlington, Texas in 2007. A couple of years later, LKQ Corporation, headquartered in Chicago, Ill., purchased the company. For the first time in his working life, Harris was without a job.
“I wasn’t planning on opening a business,” he admitted. “I had limited capital. But it seemed to be the best time to get into it.”
Fellow recycler Ron Sturgeon gave Harris advice and helped facilitate the purchase of a yard with a good reputation.
On February 1, 2010, Harris opened Mazda Nissan Heaven. He expanded the product line to include Kia and Hyundai.
“It was easier to focus on a few makes because that would allow us to sell a little bit deeper into the cars,” explained Angus.
“We didn’t have the resources to be everything to everybody.But if a customer would call, I’d have a good chance of having the part they wanted for a Mazda, Nissan, Kia or Hyundai.” Harris has put to work all that he’s learned during his varied career.
For example, he’s continuing the sense of professionalism taught by mentor Don Fitzpatrick, Jr. of Fitz Auto Parts.
“Don ran a truly professional business with high caliber employees and put a lot of value on employee retention, which I try to do as well.
“I think teaching skiing and snowboarding also helps manage my employees because I understand different learning styles,” he added. “I educate them on the bigger picture so that they understand our mission.”
Now 12 to 14 hours away from a ski mountain, Angus only gets to pursue his hobby every so often. But he doesn’t regret the move.
“I love the business and the industry, and I’m raising my family here,” he said. “It doesn’t get better than that.”