McLeod, 61, calls the recycling companies his “retirement job.” Auto recycling is the latest chal- lenge in a varied career that has included a chemi- cal engineering degree from Catholic University in Washington, DC, several years as a submarine com- ponents designer for the Central Intelligence Agency, a stint with Raytheon as an engineer, and most recently ownership of a surgical supply com- pany and a beer distribution franchise owner, both in Gaithersburg, Maryland.
Crash Course in Auto Recycling In his first auto recycling yard experience,
Brookville Used Auto Parts operates in an urban set- ting and serves a lower socioeconomic status clientele as a largely walk-in retail operation. Parts sales are mainly to do-it-yourselfers fixing older model vehicles, with drivetrains and engines being the top sellers. Situated on just 1.5 acres with eight employees, the Rockville yard dismantles 50 to 60 vehicles a month. McLeod’s purchase of the Rockville operation in 2010 coincided with skyrocketing commodities’ prices. “Since I’ve been in the industry, recycling has taken a beating, mainly from high-priced scrap,” he says. That experience led him to two significant realiza- tions. “You can’t long-term manage with commodity prices going up and down so much and so fast,” he says. “That leads to the fact that the (auto recycling) industry is changing, and small yards are very diffi- cult.”
McLeod’s years as an amateur pilot flying over every continent have given him a heightened awareness of the need for sustainability, and he has quickly become an advocate for environmental responsibility in the recycling industry.
Based on those conclusions, McLeod determined diversification would be important for his long-term success. In evaluating his options, he did not want to go too far afield from his fundamental business, auto recycling. His solution was to diversify and expand by purchasing another auto recycling facility that would complement the Brookville yard. In late 2015 he purchased West Side Auto Parts, a Gold Seal facility, a large yard in a rural setting. The business covers 18 acres, including four under roof, situated in a town with a population under 4,000 in Sussex County, Del. West Side has ten employees and dismantles an average of two vehicles a day. In con- trast to Brookville, “It’s 100 percent, insurance-qual- ity parts with an extra warranty,” McLeod notes. With the purchase of West Side Auto Parts, McLeod transitioned Brookville Used Auto Parts to 70 percent scrap. He maintains separate inventories for the two yards, and transfers older inventory to Brookville to sell to the DIYers. He finds that Skyping regularly lets him manage both yards effectively.
September-October 2016 | Automotive Recycling 59