Five jobs later, Hopper started working at Danny and Linda Linn’s Auto Salvage Yard. He went to the interview and Linda Linn told her manager, Roger, “take him down and see if he knows anything about cars.” Roger came back and said “I don’t know if he can sell a darn thing but this boy sure knows what the models are!”
He said the Linns ran a very sophisticated business. “They did everything right and they run a very pro- fessional auto recycling business. They do everything by the book. I got to learn from the best in the auto recycling business.”
Married to Jennifer for 30 years, the couple have three children – sons Blake (28) and Alex (15), and daughter Anna (12). Truth be told, Hopper said, Jennifer runs Sonny’s. “She does everything except buy cars and deal with fuel lines. (The day we spoke, Hopper was dealing with a truck he had sold for $7,000 to a customer who had called to complain that the truck had a leaking fuel line under the cab. His crew had put the motor in the truck and it was his responsibility to fix it. That’s what we do, he stressed.) Hopper feels so strongly about the need so ensure that small and independent businesses remain com- petitive that he took the bold step last year to run for elected office. He already was a Justice of the Peace on the Lonoke County Quorum Court, which is similar to a Board of Supervisors or legislative body in his home county. But in 2015 he decided to challenge State Senator Eddie Joe Williams, saying Williams spent too much time looking after large corporations. He lost to the incumbent Senator by only five per- cent in the March, 2016 Republican Primary. But along the way, he started appearing on the KHTE Radio in Little Rock, also known as The Answer. The station liked him so much that they asked him to appear more often on the Dave Elswick show to talk about Arkansas politics. “We have fun with the show,” said Hopper, so much fun that he advertises on the show as well.
“The only reason I have political points is that I want to save the family businesses in this country. Family businesses cannot bear the costs of govern- ment,” says Hopper. “We cannot control all of the ris- ing costs but we can try to give the independent auto recycler the tools to be more efficient and more com- petitive if they are going to stay in business. We can’t control the other side, we can only fight them.” “ARA Members should run for local office. How else are we going to get control but run for office? The only way I found to get a politician’s attention is to run against him,” states Hopper. He urges any local business – recyclers and other –
“How are you going to pass the torch? In order for ARA to survive the next 50 years, we have to provide the tools to assist these businesses to pass the torch.”
to get out in the community and get involved. According to Hopper, every July 4th, Sonny’s Auto Salvage does a big cookout of hot dogs and hamburg- ers and feeds more than 700 people, . Another concern of Hopper is the next generation of automotive recyclers – if there is another genera- tion, he notes.
“How are you going to pass the torch? In order for ARA to survive the next 50 years, we have to provide the tools to assist these businesses to pass the torch.” “That is something on my mind. My 28-year-old shows no interest in taking over. I grew up in a hard battle and I don’t think my son is interested in fighting that hard battle. He saw the struggle I grew up with and with my dad fighting the same battles that I fight every day.” “We have to have a smooth transition. If the torch gets dropped, 25 percent of our businesses will take a hit and jobs will be lost. And we won’t be as effective
September-October 2016 | Automotive Recycling 45