Phoenix Automotive Cores
Jay Robie solves problems for his customers. As a result, he's taken his business, Phoenix Automotive Cores, in directions he never planned.
"We'd discover a need as we were taking care of a customer," he explained. "We'd use an outside vendor and if they failed, we would do it ourselves. We ended up building the business around those needs. That seemed to work for us."
For example, the company started a subsidiary trucking company to haul steel for customers. It also changed the focus of its scrap metal recycling business to meet customer needs.
"We started in 1998 as a scrap metal recycling company," said Robie, CEO and owner. "We started with electronics, such as computers, and we did it on a small scale. But over time, we realized there were a lot of auto recyclers in our area and if we could purchase their parts, we could solve a lot of issues - giving them business but also recycling scrap metal so it's better for the environment."
Ready To Recycle
Robie acknowledges his business as an original "green" company, before it was fashionable to recycle. "We were a green company before anyone thought it was cool," he noted. "Not only are we helping the environment, we're solving problems for other businesses that need to dispose of materials."
The automotive focus was so successful, Phoenix Automotive Cores opened branches in other areas. In 2007, it opened a facility in Barnesville, Ga. The following year, two more branches opened in Las Vegas, Nev. and Manchester, N.H. Locations were chosen geographically and with respect to the industry relationships Robie and business partner Lee Morrell had with colleagues in those areas.
Today, Phoenix Automotive Cores is a proud recycler of brass, copper, aluminum and platinum. The biggest revenue stream comes from the platinum in catalytic converters.
"We're the only independently-owned, scrap metal recycler that has partnered with a platinum smelter," explained Robie. "We have access to the smelter's data, which allows us to know to the penny what the converter is worth."
The goal and focus is sourcing the materials. The business' marketing targets the United States and Canada, mostly auto recyclers, to find the metals. You'll often find Phoenix Automotive Cores at industry trade shows, spreading the word.
"We'll put on presentations," he explained, "to educate people in the industry. We give them ideas about what programs might be beneficial to them. We also do some gimmicks; for the ARA convention, we put our company name on the hotel key cards."
The Internet has opened up another way to reach potential customers. The Phoenix Automotive Cores web site includes training videos, inventory and industry events.
"It used to be that we had to send people to wherever we wanted to source product," said Robie. "Now by using an online program, we can reach about 2,000 yards throughout the country. We can see their inventory and buy product through them."
The company's growth and success has not gone unrecognized. Arizona Corporate Excellence, a group of bankers and auditing firms, recognized Phoenix Automotive Cores as one of the top 50 companies in the state, and the fourth among the fastest growing businesses. Robie credits much of its success to the employees.
"It's hard to do anything if you don't have good people," he said. "I joke that whenever we hire someone new, he or she has to be smarter than any of us. We encourage employees to think for themselves."
Owners: Jay Robie & Lee Morrell
Location: Headquartered in Phoenix, Ariz. Branches in Barnesville, Ga., Las Vegas, Nev. & Manchester, N. H.
Years In Business: 12