Todd Stepp Aims To Do It All
Sixty-six years ago Jim Stepp founded Stepp’s Towing Service as a gas station with one truck. Since then, the company has grown to 13 towing locations, as well as an environmental response company, a tire company and a transport company that covers 48 states. In 2011, in the face of relocation, the Stepps added an auto recycling facility to their growing list of companies.
Six years ago, Todd Stepp took over for his father, Jim, as the head of Stepp’s Towing. Since then, he said he has been looking for ways to continue to grow the company.
“Years ago we started looking at getting a salvage yard, because I used to have to auction off all my cars and sell them to outside salvage companies,” said Todd. “It’s one of those cases where I already had the inventory, but I basically just needed a salvage yard.”
Jeremy Graves, manager of Stepp’s Auto and Truck Salvage (www.steppsautoandtrucksalvage.com), further explained how the business evolved, “In 2011, the Florida government bought our Wesley Chapel location to widen the road. We had to find another location, and what we ended up coming across was a salvage yard with a towing business. We started the salvage yard because it was something Todd’s dad wanted to do and never had the right time and right place.”
Todd added, “When we purchased the San Antonio location, we got the salvage certificate. It just kind of went hand-in-hand, so we just started a salvage company at that point.”
The San Antonio location operates on four acres with 10 employees, not including Todd and Graves (the towing company has more than 200 employees). It specializes in late-model vehicles, along with engines and transmissions. The location processes about 720 vehicles annually - using a third recently-bought Iron Ax recovery system - which the company hopes to double or triple after opening a new, second location.
Todd is currently working out the final details to open a 20-acre, hybrid facility. Todd said space as one of the primary motivators for his desire to open the new location, but there are other advantages to this latest venture.
“We don’t have a lot of storage space at our current location,” he explained. “The new location is going to be a U-Pull-It yard, so it’s going to be a unique thing that we have, that a lot of other people don’t have. We have 13 (towing) locations, so we get a lot of cars. This is a way that we can feed our own salvage yards. I’ve always been trying to diversify the company as far as what we do and what other companies can help accent what we have.”
Graves, who will also be managing the newest auto recycling facility, added, “We’re very close to getting it done. It’s a lot bigger than what we have now. It’s a different type of facility. Our original location is a full-service yard. This one is going to be a U-Pull-It / hybrid yard. It’s going to be really exciting for us to get bigger. The warehouse space is something we’ve always wanted. It just makes for a better yard. When you have warehouse space, you can save a lot more.”
Todd said the new location will work in harmony with the existing salvage yard. “The nice thing about it with the towing company that we have is we can transfer cars at a minimal cost. I furnish my salvage yards now with the cars from within my own company, which passes the savings on to my customers.”
In anticipation of the opening of the self-service facility, which will initially employ 8 to 12 people, Todd has already got a team in place.
“We’re geared up for it. We’ve already got employees hired on that live in that area. So we’re just waiting on everything to get finalized. We’ve already got everything in motion. We’ve already bought a rack to process the cars and 500 -6 00 cars set aside.”
Although Todd said that he hopes to triple production with his newest facility, he doesn’t want to move too fast.
“You’ve got to concentrate on what you’re doing and make it better every day. I want to make sure everything is going good and being run right. We want to make it better for the consumer and figure out how we can be a little bit different than anybody that’s out there.”