Lentini Auto Salvage Speeds To Success
From Left To Right: Kim, Matt, Mike, Beth, Daniel and Darryl Carman
When the cars line up at the New Egypt Speedway on a Saturday night, chances are that Darryl Carman and a few of his family members are there. As president of Lentini Auto Salvage in Ringoes, N.J., he might be cheering on the racecar his company has sponsored. Or he might be watching one of his kids compete. He might even be driving himself. In fact, racing is as much a part of the Carman family legacy as is the family business, and that’s not a bad thing, according to Carman.
“Races are local and draw a lot of people who have hot rods or body shops,” he said. “It’s a good fit for us. It puts us in front of potential customers and promotes our business. Lots of people will come into the shop after a race and talk about it.”
The business has been sponsoring races since the mid-1970s. Darryl’s father, Dick Carman, always enjoyed drag racing. So when some of the local drivers - who also happened to be friends - asked him for sponsorships, he agreed.
That was just a few years after Dick and his wife Betty founded the business. The couple set up shop in 1967, inspired perhaps by Dick’s father George Carman who had owned Carman Auto Wreckers in White House, N.J. Within the first year of business, though, they faced a devastating challenge. The building burned to the ground. But with hard work, perseverance and advice gleaned at ARA Conventions, Dick and Betty rebuilt it to be bigger and better.
Today, Lentini Auto Salvage boasts a 3,000-square-foot office building that includes a three-floor warehouse featuring 15,000 square feet of indoor parts storage. More improvements are under way. They primarily handle cars from the year 2001 and newer.
Darryl and his wife Beth purchased the business from his parents in 2012. “At the time, we had 12 employees,” he noted. “Now, we’re up to 26. We also put in a loading dock this past July and we’re in the process of putting up a new dismantling facility with six bays. And we joined Team PRP. We’re doing what we can to take the business to the next level.”
Four of their children - Kim, Matt, Mike and Daniel - work there, though at age 14, Daniel works around his schoolwork. Katie, Mary and Kelly round out the family but aren’t involved in the business. Most of the Carmans have raced; 18 is the minimum age. Daughter Kim’s fiancée is a race title holder at Trenton.
“Racing is a good sport for young adults,” said Darryl. “It keeps them busy and out of trouble. What’s really nice about it is that my kids are now racing against the kids of the guys I used to race. It’s the same group of families, and we all know each other.”
Whether or not the Carman kids are racing, there’s probably a Lentini Auto Salvage sponsorship at one of the three remaining tracks in New Jersey. Sometimes the business sponsors a position, meaning it’ll pay for the car that comes in third - or whatever number - as long as they display a Lentini Auto Salvage decal. Other times, it may be a billboard or a car.
In 2014, the company took its race sponsorships to a new level. It was a title sponsor in the Battle of Trenton Indoor Race and Atlantic City Gamblers Classic, and a main sponsor at the Flemington Speedway Historical Society Car Show.
“We were sponsors at these events before,” said Darryl. “This year, I asked what it would cost to be a main sponsor.” As a main sponsor at Flemington, the company brought in its truck and had a booth. It also sponsored and presented some trophies. “The interesting part was that people were calling us to ask questions as if we were running the event,” said Darryl.
For auto recyclers considering getting involved in race sponsorships, Darryl offered this advice. “Start slow. Find a racetrack or someone who races. Spend only what you can afford. A couple hundred dollars usually gets your name on a car. The more you give the bigger it gets.”
As for Lentini Auto Salvage, the family tends to go big. “My father always had bad eyes,” said Darryl. “So he always said, make it big so I can see it.” Luckily, that means Lentini’s potential customers can, too.