December 06, 2006 Edition

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Pratt Auto Salvage is Business of Year

Adam Pratt (left) accepts the Lawrence County Chamber of Commerce 2006 Business of the Year award on behalf of Pratt Auto Salvage and Sales. Clay Sloan presented the award.
Pratt Auto Salvage and Sales, located at 170 Industrial Drive in Hoxie, has been named the 2006 Lawrence County Chamber of Commerce Business of the Year. The company is an example of a business that has taken full advantage of computerization and the Internet to grow a very successful business that ships auto parts all over the United States.

Robert Pratt purchased the company in 1983. Through the years, he and his employees have worked to organize, tidy up and computerize the business into a highly efficient, profitable operation. Located on 20 acres, the business first operated from a 40 by 50-foot building. Today, the business is housed in a 50 by 400-foot building.

Robert's son, Adam, said he "grew up in it," and now operates the business with his father. The company employs 12 people, including Robert and Adam.

For approximately 15 years, the company has kept a record of its inventory on computer.

Adam gave an overview of their operation and the cycle for their salvaged vehicles. Two of their employees pick up vehicles as well as deliver the auto parts throughout Northeast Arkansas. Most of the vehicles are purchased through several insurance companies, while some are bought at salvage auctions, Adam said.

All acquired vehicles and parts are first inventoried, which is one Pratt employee's primary job. Once inventoried, all fluids are drained in keeping with environmental standards. Pratt has won the Outstanding Environmental Achievement Award for extraordinary environmental stewardship and pollution prevention.

Next, the vehicle is torn down, with the fast-selling parts taken off first. Then, the remains of the vehicle are lined up with others in a row, with the exact location noted in the computer inventory.

After three months or three years, or when all the good parts are removed and used, Pratt crushes the vehicle remains to be sold for scrap metal. Everything ends up being used in one way or another. Pratt gives the good auto tires to a company, who in turn, takes care of disposing of the bad tires, which would cost some $6 each for disposal, Adam said.

Adam estimated that some 20 to 25 percent of their business is walk-in customers, while the rest is done through phone or Internet orders. The company has seven phone lines and its own website. Internet business has picked up considerably in the last two or three years, he said. More people using the Internet and better computer programs allow their complete inventory to be viewed online.

Pratt's drivers make daily trips to deliver parts to Jonesboro, Paragould, Pocahontas, Newport and Batesville, where customers include body shops and other salvage yards. Once a week, they also makes trips to Mountain Home and Memphis. Each day, they ship 20 to 25 packages through UPS all over the country. They also ship two or three larger items daily on truck lines. These larger items, which might weigh from 250 to 300 pounds, include motors, transmissions or rear-end axles.

Adam Pratt said lots of hard work, long hours and keeping their inventory on computer have been keys to their success.

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