Hamer Road Driven By Lifelong Passion
Scott Cook is focused on turning Hamer Road Auto Salvage & Sales into a modern auto recycling facility.
Photo: John Walters
Scott Cook bought his first car when he was just 14. But that’s okay, because the 1967 Cadillac El Dorado wasn’t ready to be driven.
“I restored it with my dad so it would be ready when I was 16,” he said. “That was my introduction to auto salvage yards.”
Scott visited the local auto recycling facilities to find parts for the El Dorado. In the process, he also found a part-time job.
“The yards would give me a couple of bucks to help out,” he said. “Eventually, I got on staff, starting as a yard man and worked my way through the ranks.”
It was not a career initially envisioned by Scott’s family, who are all in the medical field. But Scott’s passion for the business couldn’t be ignored. He learned the ropes and eventually invested in his own business.
He and his wife Nikki bought Hamer Road Auto Salvage & Sales in 2005. The 7.5-acre facility had been there since the 1970s.
“It was the town junkyard,” said Scott. “The old owner would say, ‘get your part, give me $5.’ It took us a year to get past that.” It was an uphill battle.
“That first year was tough,” said Scott. “The yard was empty and we had very little money to buy inventory. We couldn’t afford help. It was just me, and my wife, pulling parts when we got orders. We’d sometimes stay until 2 a.m. to get the parts off. We depended on friends and family; they helped out a lot.”
It took the Cooks two years to get to the point where they could hire employees. “We finally started being able to take vacations two years ago,” added Scott.
The idea to build a new office building came unexpectedly. The one that came with the property was a little house built in the 1890s and converted to an office.
“I was insulted by a customer,” said Scott. “He had driven several hours from Indiana to pick up a part. He had no problem with the price when we spoke on the phone. But after he saw the yard, he told me, ‘you’re not rich enough to charge that much.’”
That remark prompted the Cooks to reevaluate, and ultimately replace the little old house with a state-of-the-art facility. The new building is 34-by-62 feet and includes a sales area, offices, a fully-equipped kitchen and a bathroom with a shower.
“We have lockers and everything for the employees,” said Scott. “This way, they don’t have to wear a dirty uniform all day. They have access to a shower to clean up and change.”
The building is heated by waste oil and transmission fluid. Currently, it runs on electric with central air.
“It is part of our environmental focus,” said Scott. “We believe in recycling 100 percent. We drain all of our fluids, and sell our oil and antifreeze.”
The business is definitely at the next level. Recently, Scott also purchased a car crusher and loader.
“A lot of guys are amazed that we’re building in this economy,” he said. “But we need more family- owned businesses succeeding. Too many people are going corporate. Don’t let that sale go to the corporate yard. Price competitively. Work together. Keep the industry alive."