auto junk, junk vehicle removal, who junks cars

Scrap Car Spotlight 1.8

Scrap Car Spotlight 1.8

Cleveland Scrap Cars is back with the 8th installment of our series of interviews relating to those who junk cars in the US and handle junk vehicle removal, and auto junk related activity. Our next industry expert from within the auto junk, junk car removal and recycling realm is Mr. Mike Swift, whose company Swift Trail’s Auto Recycling. Mr. Swift is a industry veteran and we asked him the following:

Q: What are some of the primary functions you handle in managing Swift Trail’s Auto?

I have been in the business full time since May 1979, the same year I graduated High School. I worked fulltime in the family business in all aspects of the business. From the component puller, Inventory, delivery, countersales, etc  I have done all of the jobs. I still continue to be active in our family business. Try to motivate counter sales, Inventory the vehicles that come in, sell components so in a sense my job hasn’t changed much

Q: What have been some of the key factors in your business’ success for so many years?

I don’t know what we do right, but we have a very low turnover rate, He have some employee’s that have been with us and our family for over 30 years. I guess we just treat our employees how we want to be treated. Our Dad, Dale Swift always taught us, the only thing that sets us apart is customer service. We try to make sure that each part that leaves here is going with out a surprise to the customer.

Q: What are some of the changes in the industry recently that you have noticed?

The high fees at the salvage pools are at an all time high.  The lack of the insurance companies wanting to use used auto components. The OEM’s are constantly attacking auto recyclers. The truth is that we take care of the End of Life Vehicle.  The items that we sell, are the ones that they have made and/or had a hand in making. We sell what they have manufactured–no more and no less.  We sell a plug and play product;  we don’t make it better and we don’t make it worse. The biggest challenge that faces our industry today is recalls.  Over 100,000,000 million vehicle recalls since 2014!  We have no way in our industry to figure out easily if we are selling or not selling a recalled part. We have asked and talked with the OEM and they still don’t understand what we do. As auto recyclers we can make sure that these recalled components don’t go back out in to the repair stream. NHTSA has asked for a 100% remedy rate for all recalls. They have also stated that all recalls are a safety issue. With millions of the End of Life Vehicles still sitting at auto recycling facilities, How does NHTSA and OEM think that they can do this?  Recyclers need the OEM component data and the build sheet data. The consumer who owns the vehicle should also have access to these numbers, but yet today will still don’t. ARA has been working on this issue on a daily basis. We hope to make NHTSA and the OEM realize that auto recyclers are the other OEM. We are the little brother/sister of OEM. They need to know that we take care of the end of life vehicle. We are an important part of the repair chain and take care of the environmental issues that come with it and also sell an affordable part and we save consumers money .

Q: Is there any marketing initiative(s) that you have used lately that was very successful?

Calling on customers, the Gold Seal Program, get feedback from customers on how we are doing and executing e-mail blast campaigns. We also advertise on Craigslist, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

Q: How do you track such a large inventory?

We use the Checkmate Management system   They have the best customer service and the best product to help us sell our components

Q: I noticed you have vehicles classified as “rebuilders”.  How do you decide whether to sell a vehicle as a rebuilder rather than parting it out?

Most of the cars in a sense are not really rebuilders  They are older cars that a customer can purchase and install an engine or transmission on, or do some light body work  We just put a few cars out in our lot and sell maybe 6 of them a month.

Q: The trend of the “U-Pull-It” and “self-service” business model has become popular in the industry. Have you considered it? What do you see as the drawbacks?

My grandfather started in the 40’s  The practice of pulling your own item then was a big part of the business. We operated a late model yard where only our employees were allowed to pull the items. We have a few customers that come to our place and pull their own items. We have the customer that wants us to pull it and deliver it. We have 25 acres so we are in the process of  placing our vehicles in the yard. It’s something we are just starting to do and see if it makes us a better facility.

Q: What are the different ways that you obtain late-model (2005+) vehicles?

We have a few independent  Insurance companies that we bid on cars. The majority of the late model are purchased at the salvage pools. We get a few calls from owners that want to sell their car directly to an auto recycler.

Q: The per ton scrap prices have continued to fall in the US. What do you typically pay for vehicles these days in your area of Iowa?

That is the big question.  With car bodies down to the range of 15 to 25 per ton,  the most that we can pay on the older vehicle is $25.  If we pay more for that car it has no value other than scrap.

Q: Having been in this business for many years, do you recall scrap prices declining this far? When and/if do you expect a rebound?

I have been around when scrap was $8 a ton  We sold 2000 cars for 13.00 a ton  Prices are going to stay low   China is not buying and it doesn’t look like they will be buying next year or the year after. The price is going to stay at this amount until our country starts to produce more products in the USA that require steel. All of our manufacturers have left the country and they produce outside the USA and then haul it back in. The price of oil has also affected the steel industry. Believe it or not they do go hand in hand. Thinking of the last election with gas prices being one the big issues.

We certainly appreciate the insight and we encourage folks to visit there website at

It appears that the industry relating to auto junk, junk vehicle removal and those of us who junks cars is going to be challenging. It will be interesting to see how things progress.