Colin Crabtree is the president and CEO of Crabtree Auto, an auto recycling company in Ogden, Utah. A family owned business, Crabtree Auto was originally a bicycle shop opened by Colin’s father, but it evolved into a body shop just after World War II. The Crabtrees began selling parts off their vehicles, and the company became a salvage business. In 1947, it moved to Ogden where it continues today as a certified auto recycler.
Although Colin and his brother, Miles, worked in the business as soon as they were old enough, they took over the business in the 1960s and 70s. And in the 21st century, Crabtree Auto became a third-generation owned Utah family business as Colin’s son, Clay, became part owner. A member of the Automotive Recyclers Association (ARA), Crabtree Auto’s business is purchasing late-model vehicles and selling the undamaged or fixed up parts to body and mechanical shops, insurance companies, salvage yards, and local customers.
Choose the Right People
For Colin, ca big part of success in business is choosing the right people to work with. “You’re very dependent on your employees,” he says, “So choose employees that support you.” Surround yourself with people who have the same commitment to quality service and who show you that they uphold your company values, motto and standards. Crabtree Auto’s motto is “clean, organized, quick service”, so Colin chooses employees that embody and illustrate that. And since he experiences very little employee turnover at Crabtree Auto, he chooses well.
Learn from Others
It’s easy to make learning through trial and error the norm when you’re an entrepreneur, but Colin advocates learning from others rather than through hard knocks. Whether you talk to a mentor or other professionals in your industry, listen to their experiences and advice to know what’s going on and avoid making the same mistakes they did.
Improve Your Industry
Striving to be honest is a hallmark of Colin’s success. While he realizes that the used auto industry can have a less than honest reputation, he strives to make his business strong and his practices honest to keep its reputation strong and improve the image of his industry. He believes that success is about improving your own business, which, in turn, improves your industry.
Colin further improved his industry as Crabtree Auto helped form the United Recyclers Group (URG), a part of the Automotive Recyclers Association that sets quality standards to ensure recyclers are using premium recycled parts.
“My hope for my son,” says Colin, “Is that he builds on a legacy of honor.”