Ralph Snyder was just a teenager when he knew his life's ambition. He wanted to own an auto recycling facility. But as it often happens, life intervened. Instead, Ralph became a plumber, pipe fitter and welder. After all, he needed to support his wife and family.
As his young sons - Dan, Andy and Travis - became teenagers, they took up his interest in vehicles. The Snyder brothers would cruise Arizona auto recyclers looking for hot rod parts. The dream that was once only Ralph's began to take hold with his sons and was helped along by Ralph's father, Melvin Snyder. By the time the oldest son, Dan, graduated from college in May of 1988, the Snyders had found a business location.
"We started from scratch with 10 acres of a plowed field," noted Dan. "We constructed a building from the ground up. Then we purchased the cars. Our first car was a 1960 Ford Falcon four-door sedan."
At first, it was just Dan and Ralph in the business. Ralph supplemented the income with welding jobs; Dan did the same with part installations.
"There was a lot of guess work in the [beginning]," explained Dan. "People would bring in a part and we'd try to match it. Then we found out about interchange books. We could tell easily which parts worked in what vehicles. That helped quite a bit."
The business got its first computer system in 1993. Andy joined Snyder's and helped put the inventory on computer. Business rapidly changed as the Snyders aligned with other auto recyclers through the Parts Source of Texas (PartSourceOfTexas.com).
"It opened our eyes to how the insurance business worked," admitted Dan. "We were growing 20 to 30 percent a year for 6 to 8 years in a row. We were really working hard to stay ahead of the curve and be progressive. We got lots of ideas from some really smart people in the industry. They helped us broaden our scope beyond central Texas."
Today, Snyder's offers mainly late-model vehicle parts. About half are autos and the other half are trucks, vans and SUVs - what people "down here in Texas like to drive," according to Dan. The business clientele is about 90 percent wholesale and 10 percent retail. It offers a standard 90-day warranty.
"We only get about 20 walk-in customers a day because we're out in the country," he explained. "Most of our business is from shops who have bought from us for a long time. We do very little advertising or marketing."
Snyder's offers a fairly large, free delivery area. It travels on Interstate 35 between San Antonio and Dallas / Fort Worth. It serves Killeen, Holland, Austin and all of central Texas.
"We, as a company, worked really hard to be a top-quality facility," said Dan. "We want to be the best auto recycling facility in the state of Texas. My brothers and I are still pretty young. We love what we do and will continue to expand."
The Snyder family garnered high accolades from ARA and will be the barbecue site for the 2010 ARA national convention in Austin, Texas on October 22.
"This is probably the one and only time a lot of my friends will see what we do and where we do it," noted Dan. "We want to give people a feel for what it's like in Texas, so we'll have an electric bull and a country-western band. But we also want them to feel at home. They need to understand that with a lot of work and dedication, anyone can do this."
Owners: Ralph Snyder, Dan Snyder, Andy Snyder & Travis Snyder
Location: Holland, Texas
Years In Business: 22