Spotlight on Gold Seal
Interview by Caryn Smith
Allied Auto Wrecking is located in beautiful Weare, New Hampshire. The facility is a proud Gold Seal recycler member of the Automotive Recyclers Association, and the Auto and Truck Recyclers Association of New Hampshire (ATRA). Owner and President David Wilusz and Operations Manager Samantha Walton take pride in running an impeccable automotive recycling facility.
“We are a full-service yard, a three-bay garage with a 10-acre yard and nine employees,” says Samantha Walton. “We specialize in southern rust-free parts that Dave Wilusz picks up down south on a monthly basis. We also have a plethora of late model vehicles for parts.”
For Allied Auto Wrecking, specializing in “rust-free southern parts means they keep track of trends and customer requests for parts that are ruined by the winter salt of treated New Hampshire roads. Wilusz has several yards between TN, GA, AL, SC, FL, KY, AR and even in CO, NM, TX & AZ, with whom he has made connections based on their geographic location and also their reputations, and where he has standing orders for certain items, such as doors, truck beds, frames, k-frames, gas tanks, tailgates, and bumpers etc.
As the sales team and Wilusz obtains these hard to find parts for their customers, and once a load is put together, it is time for a southern pick-up run. (When parts come from out west, Wilusz will either travel to get the parts or arrange freight.) Wilusz also keeps a warehouse in GA to stock pile these parts so when there is demand he can pick them up on his next visit south. Automotive Recycling magazine caught up with the duo to ask them more about their operation.
Automotive Recycling magazine: Tell us about your history – how did your facility get its start?
Samantha Walton: The company was started in 1973 by William (Bill) Wilusz and family with a small collection of antique collectible cars. It has been family-owned and operated since then. In 1996 David Wilusz, the son of Bill Wilusz, purchased the business from his father and has continued to run and grow the business to where it is today.
AR: When did you become involved the business?
Walton: I became involved in the business in 1987 when I was just 13. I assisted David’s mother, Cherie Wilusz, dismantling cars, putting inventory away, tagging and marking parts, answering phones, pulling parts and assisting both Bill and Cherie with many projects they had. We even built and maintained their five apartment houses.
AR: What is a brief history of early years?
Walton: William and Cherie owned a gas station in Manchester, NH and in 1972 they bought a then-junk yard in Goffstown, NH. Unfortunately, the property they acquired could not be used for a salvage facility, and they acquired the Weare/New Boston property.
The facility began with 50 acres of virgin land. As stock slowly increased, an acre of land was cleared and cleaned up to store the increase of inventory. Bill and Cherie also built one apartment house and their home on the 50 acres. As time went on and the business grew, they moved from the home they built and turned it into a four-family apartment house and built themselves a new home next to the salvage yard.
Eventually, Bill and Cherie built three more four-family apartment houses on the 50 acres. Bill also built a building across the street from the salvage yard to use to work on his classic cars. He still uses the garage across the street to continue his love of working and restoring old classic cars. It was a true family business, and everyone was expected to work at the yard.
AR: How has your business progressed to stay cutting-edge throughout the years?
Walton: Through the years, we have created many changes to stay with the times. We have increased our yard to a full 10 acres of inventory to meet customers’ needs. We keep our staff educated on the new processes available to them and we have state-of-the-art fluid recovery systems. I also keep myself up-to-date on all the modern technologies available, by attending trade shows and conferences. I believe education has been and is the key to our success.
AR: What recent changes, if any, have you made to adapt to rapid changes in the industry?
Walton: The automotive recycling industry changes daily. We must adapt quickly or get left behind. We keep informed of the changes by networking with our fellow recyclers, working with them and learning from them. Another key to our continued success is the knowledge of our office staff. Today with social media ever-changing and trying to keep up with the constant changes of a web-page and internet, we are constantly researching new and exciting techniques to grow our business.
AR: How many cars do you process a year?
Walton: We process 300-plus vehicles a year, and have 61,649 parts in inventory.
AR: How important is your online sales to your business and how do you market it?
Walton: Online sales have become increasingly important. The world is changing and we anticipate in the next couple years for it to increase even more. We market largely on social media and Craigslist, as well as use Google and Bing for click ads. We use programs such as Car-Part, Hotlines, URG and Part Cycle and, of course, AlliedAutoWrecking.com to sell our goods online. Our largest demographic of customers are local shops, followed closely by retail “walk-ins.”
Gold Seal Certification
AR: How long has your facility been Gold Seal? What inspired you to pursue Gold Seal designation?
Walton: We have been Gold Seal certified for almost a year now. We believe in making and maintaining our shop and yard to be the best it can be. The ARA Gold Seal Certification shows those around us we are committed to our processes. We are also ARA CAR Certified and NH State Green Yard Certified.
Being Gold Seal certified has allowed us to show our customers and our community we are serious about our yard, customer service and our friendliness to the ecosystems. Becoming NH Green Certified and receiving the Gold Seal and CAR Certifications has helped with local perception.
Others should obtain Gold Seal to provide evidence of their commitment to the automotive recycling industry, customer satisfaction and that they are serious about keeping the environment around them clean for future generations.
Milestones and Success
AR: What milestones have you accomplished that improved your business?
Walton: The biggest milestones are really all our certifications, as they have improved the efficiency of our company. Our company has become more organized and aware of its’ practices. They have helped our employees be responsible and aware of the importance of green practices and are proud to be a part of our success. They have also improved our response to marketing, which has increased our local walk-in customer base.
AR: What were the biggest challenge(s) your facility has overcome?
Walton: Our biggest challenge our facility has and still is working to overcome is going from the “old school” view of salvage/junk yards to the professional recycling center mentality. Educating the public has been and continues to be a large obstacle.
AR: What helps your business most to succeed?
Walton: Networking with other recyclers to get our customers the parts they need in a timely manner has been the key to our success. Plus, education, trade shows and conventions that we, as management, and our employees attend continues to help us all succeed company as a whole.
AR: What is the biggest obstacle to your success right now?
Walton: Our biggest and most challenging obstacle is finding qualified help. This is a very hard task, as no one seems to want to get their hands dirty anymore. We once had people banging on our doors to get a job. Now we must pay incentives for anyone to even look at the positions we have open. We also see a need for schooling, training, classes for our dismantlers and yard specialists. There just is not enough education classes or training within or industry to help develop, grow or attract new qualified help.
AR: Any other milestones to share that are noteworthy for people to know?
Walton: Dave and I dedicate, volunteer and donate resources to some great local causes. We serve on the Board of Directors at the South Weare Improvement Society and The Weare Historical Society. Every year we donate 20+ turkeys to the Weare Food Pantry.
Also, I raise money and ride my horse, Treyburn, for Breast Cancer Awareness and raise money and donate my skills as a photographer to Draft Gratitude in Winchester, NH to save unwanted Draft Horses. Dave is also current president of the ATRANH.
AR: What organizations do you belong?
Walton: We have been a member of the ARA for over 5 years now, and also belong to the NH Towing Association, ATRANH, Weare Historical Society, South Weare Improvement Society, and the Tri-Town Chamber.
AR: At the ARA convention, what is it that most helps you from the experience?
Walton: Seminars at the ARA convention are helpful to our staff. There is something for everyone. Meeting with and networking with other salvage yards helps us to realize we are not alone in some of the problems we are facing like hiring and retaining employees, production and organization.
AR: Do you volunteer in the industry organizations, and if so, in what?
Walton: I volunteer my time to ATRANH to do their social media and to find speakers for the meetings. I photograph dedicated events, prepare slideshows and talk about upcoming events including our social media and web presence. I also served on the ARA’s CAR Committee as a volunteer last year.
Women in the Industry
AR: How do you view being a woman in the automotive recycling industry?
Walton: Being a woman in the automotive industry can be challenging to say the least. Gaining respect from “old school” shop owners is not an easy task. I have been doing it for so long that it is not an issue so much anymore, but I remember those days. I still feel, at times, this is a “man’s world,” some are not as receptive to change and technology. They can be hard headed and difficult sometimes when I am trying to explain the necessity and need to use these new tools.
AR: How do your employees view you as a leader in the company?
Walton: My employees respect me and the work I do. I know they all come to me because I am approachable, caring and fair. I always thank them for their work and take the time to see how their weekend was or how their family is. Taking pride, expressing you care and take an interest in your employees daily is extremely important. My employees know I care and know I am here for them along with my open-door policy helps us all respect, care and look out for one another.
AR: What should men know about women in the industry?
Walton: Dave and I have been together for 14 years as a couple, and I have helped him in business run Allied Auto Wrecking Inc., Look N2 Store LLC (self-storage and apartment buildings), DDS Realty LLC (real estate & apartments) and a farm we own together, W&W Aurora Farms LLC.
Woman are capable and bring a different touch to the business. We are strong, smart and knowledgeable. Woman are creative and can market this industry in ways men cannot. Men should recognize that most woman in the industry have a family and home life that must be well-balanced and maintained to keep both running well.
Also, there are many more single moms working in the industry today. I think, at times, male managers can perceive single moms as disloyal or not dedicated when there is a family issue to attend. My definition of a single mom is someone that has 50% to 100% custody of her child/children; usually has no help with doctors’ and dentist appointments, school meetings, athletic games or practices; cooks all the meals; does all the grocery shopping and school clothes shopping; stays home when a child is sick and the list goes on. In the hustle of business, employers can forget the responsibilities that moms, and especially single moms, have. I speak from experience as a single mom.
Unlike 30+ years ago when the man worked, and the women were able to stay home and take care of all the above, we are unable to do this today with the cost of living. If employers would allow employees, in the right positions, to have flexible schedules, and even work remotely at times, I believe that they would attract highly productive and loyal employees, who are single moms, whom quite possibly are blocked from currently applying.
AR: What is the most important thing you work to accomplish as a woman in the industry?
Walton: To be heard and to bring positive attitudes to work each day. Have big shoulders and try not to wear my heart on your sleeve!
AR: Thank you Samantha, this has been very insightful.
Walton: Thank you for the opportunity – it is greatly appreciated! Find out more about us at AlliedAutoWrecking.com.