Story and photos by Ron Kowalke
Those in the know promote finding a need and filling it as a key strategy to running a successful business. This strategy has worked well for B&S Auto Wrecking, a family-owned salvage yard located in Hines, Ore., a remote, mountainous region in the east central part of the state.
Yard co-owner Larry Foster said he specializes in pickups because that’s the type of vehicle common to the Hines area. “We’re so far from population, that’s what’s working for us.”
The “us” Foster mentioned includes his son, Gary, and Gary’s wife, Toni, who co-own the yard with Larry. In addition to the focus on light- and medium-duty trucks, the business also includes a towing and recovery service and Toni’s work as an upholstery specialist for both modern and vintage vehicles. That diversity — filling several needs common to central Oregon — is what keeps B&S Auto Wrecking successful in the face of its many challenges.
The yard, according to Larry Foster, is comprised of 40 acres that house 300 vehicles, mainly pickups and utility trucks spanning the 1950s to current. Vintage automobiles in the yard range from the 1950s through ’70s, although a fair amount of both prewar cars and trucks exist. Foster said he has titles for “most everything” in the yard. Also, the inventory is divided into project vehicles, from which no parts are allowed to be removed, and parts vehicles that can donate items.
While the business has neither a website nor computerized inventory, Toni Foster said between her, Gary and Larry, the staff has a good memory for what’s available. She added that customers can walk through the yard, but no toolboxes are allowed on the property. The Fosters will remove all parts customers select. Parts shipping is offered, but she cautioned that, due to B&S Auto Wrecking’s remote location, there are “lots of restrictions” in place.
The yard’s terrain is flat with significant aisles between the rows of vehicles. There’s lots of scrub brush surrounding vehicles, but access to viewing cars and trucks up close is generally good. With a few exceptions of like makes or models clustered together, vehicles are randomly staged throughout the yard with cars mixed with the trucks.
The 300 vehicles that compose the current inventory, according to Larry Foster, is about one-fourth the number of vehicles in the yard under its previous ownership. He explained that the yard was started by Roe Davis in 1931 at a downtown site that’s now occupied by a high school. “He started with about 100 to 125 Model T and Model A Fords.” Foster said Davis moved the yard to its current location on the west side of Hines in 1958. With more room than the downtown location offered, inventory dramatically swelled. At its peak, Foster said Davis had 1,200 vehicles on the property. “He had everything, including airplanes and boats.”
According to Foster, Davis sold the yard in the 1970s and the new owners held an auction “and sold everything of value.” Foster said he acquired the yard in 1988 with what little remained in inventory after the auction. Since then, with the help of his son and daughter-in-law, the Fosters have built back the yard into a key supplier of vehicles and parts to those in need.
“We love it here,” Foster maintained of the yard’s remote location. He said B&S Auto Wrecking is open year round, with hours of operation being Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Saturday, 9 a.m. to noon (Pacific Time).
When asked about the availability of tours of the yard, one of Foster’s buddies who stopped by for a visit jokingly chimed in, “Nobody comes here. We’re 120 miles from everywhere.” Even so, tours can be arranged by appointment.
To contact the yard, use postal mailing address: B&S Auto Wrecking, 29390 Wrecking Yard Lane (or P.O. Box 757), Hines, OR 97738; phone 541-573-7260; or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
More treasures from the yard...