Thank you for choosing FAIR Salvage Company, a business ran by Faith, not by sight. Once upon a time there was a little boy (who had a dream) who grew up and got married and had a little boy who grew up. One day he came to his dad and said “I have an idea; do you think it will work”?
Steve went away to Diesel College after high school for a year, and then came home and found a job at the Mitchell Corporation in Clare. He became a night foreman all the while thinking of his future. He came and shared his idea with his dad and they “conned” mom into the plan.
The garage was available for a business and the acres were here. Floyd and Steve approached the neighbors with the idea and got their ok; they went to the Township and County. After getting permission from the Township and the County we needed to be fingerprinted for a State License to sell parts and cars.
I remember the doors of the jail locking behind me as they took us to the back of the jail for the finger prints.
A license in hand and a purchase of Mecosta Auto Parts in December of 1986-Fair Salvage Yard became a reality. Many trips and many adventures later all the parts arrived and were shelved. Floyd continued to work at Dow Chemical Company during the day and nights were spent working at Fair Salvage Yard. Steve continued to work nights at Mitchell Corporation and mornings at Fair Salvage Yard. Rich, Steve’s younger brother who was in high school, spent his hours after school working in the yard also.
I lived next to the Yard so I began by answering phones and meeting customers and learning the parts books (I was not even interested in how parts fit to one another). I was just interested in the car I was driving, running!!!! I also learned how to do the shop financial records and many other things. My self-confidence grew and I discovered that I could do many things that I didn’t even have a clue I could do (like helping to load cars with a loader). Driving a huge piece of machinery to help someone get unstuck in the mud was a challenge, but those first few years every talent was used to help the business.
Laughter, anger and frustration as the family worked together to grow the business.
Disappointment and excitement came-one in the process of putting up a required fence around the business. One afternoon-after everyone had left or went home, I put some papers in the burning barrel to burn. I was in the bathroom when I heard this crackling sound. I began to investigate and discovered that the wind had come up and some of the papers had blown onto the pile of fence boards and the boards were on fire. No neighbors were home-by the time I called the fire department the field was on fire. A good thing—no cars for parts had caught on fire.
Steve always liked tearing things apart better than putting things together, so the first time a car crushing company came in to crush our cars and pick up our tin a new idea was born.
Those first few years were quite an adventure. In the spring we had mud. In the fall we had mud. A few people remember! Tons of additional gravel and crushed concrete have been added over the years, but before that was MUD!!! It went from the back of the main office building to yonder.
When we began buying aluminum, copper and brass and other metals, they were purchased on a small feed scale on the cement at the front of the building. Then each evening they were processed and taken to the back of the building. The painted was put into small metal baskets and someone took the job of stepping up into the baskets and stomping the painted down so more could go in. Steve or Rich took the material to another distributor.
The cars at the beginning were picked up and paid for parts. Then we began buying the cars here, by the piece. Motors were bought by cylinders, etc. If people brought tin in they stopped at Johnson Elevator in Clare and were weighed and then came back and dropped off their material and went back and weighed out. We paid for their weight ticket plus their material.
The years were tight and at times the finances seem to overwhelm us, but God is good and He continues to show us how and where to find the needed capital.
Our first load of short steel was loaded in a 30 yard roll off container by hand. The rims were thrown up into the container and someone would go up and stack them so that we could get the most in the container.
One day a truck scale became a reality. I used to tell the guys when the cement was being poured for the scale that I could have a new basement for a new house for the price that was being poured into the ground for the scale!!!
One spring morning in May—things began changing!
Unknown to us the recycling yard on US 10 West of Clare closed. The customers started lining up down the gravel road—we did not have the nice blacktop road that we do now.
As the people came in to sell their material the piles of scrap began to grow. We didn’t have cranes so the labor came at a precious price. But God gave us the ability to handle the flow. In 1998 the road was paved. The year that they were working on the road we had weekly drawings of $25.00 for customers who braved the construction and $100.00 drawing monthly for all those who came also.
Jim Teall has worked for us and is a man of many talents. He started as a steel cutter in January of 1993. Later, others joined the crew including Jeanne, Rick, Dave, Neil.
After closing hours we would take our small trucks and go and clean up small yards. One in particular involved a lot of pipe. Jim Teall, on the way home from a location where Steve and Jim had been working, came over a little hill. The road turned from gravel to blacktop and the trailer and truck were across the road. Jim’s truck was over a log, fortunately Jim could back his truck off the log, but the axle on the trailer was broken, they got it back to the pipe yard. Next morning by noon, Jim had the trailer fixed and was setting at Fair Salvage Yard.
The next weekend Steve and Jim loaded a 2 ton truck. On the way back to Fair Salvage the air brakes went out, they fixed the brakes and brought it to the yard.
Steve and Jim had loaded 10 ton of pipe by hand.
Many, many jobs were done by “man” power in those early years. We operated the yard for a few years with a pole truck (we still have at the bottom of the yard) to unload cars, and old wrecker and an old John Deere B tractor with a bucket, pickup and a 2 ton truck. The larger equipment came slowly. Our first loader was a “scary” piece of equipment. You had to watch or arms or you wouldn’t have any. Our first crane was a sight to behold also!
In 1998—the steel prices dropped suddenly and violently and remained so for almost 4 years. We wondered at times if we should even continue as we went from 22 employees to 6. The amount of hours put in by family and Jim were extremely taxing.
In the fall of 2003-things began to change. Prices climbed a small amount. We added people to process our material. Things were looking up, but also the family had prayed asking God for wisdom and God was answering our prayers. Thank you, God.
The end of February-beginning of March, 2004—was the second time for Fair Salvage Company that people lined up down the road. People we had never seen before. We even had to direct traffic as we couldn’t get them in or out of the yard and still move! We even had a hard time of shipping our material as we had very little room with all the customers to get our equipment where we could load the material. The crew put in extra hours of overtime just to put the material away for the next day’s business. Thanks crew.
We didn’t realize at the time that other yards around us were having the same problems but had closed their yards when they had all they could handle. We came to the place where we limited customers to 125 per day.
The third generation is in process of learning the business. Jon already knows more than we did when this business began. And Samantha and Matthew are learning that even though not all jobs are fun, they are necessary for success. They may push a broom but they are truly learning from the ground up what it means to be a family.
Many other stories could be told-that bring laughter or tears—but I am thankful that my guys have honored my request at the beginning for two things.
1. That no scrap would be put in my front yard.
2. That no matter what, even if we had to sell the business, that the business would not come between family members.
Thank you to our faithful customers who have been here whether the prices were good prices or bad prices. Fair Salvage Company appreciates all of our customers and if you have never visited our yard or brought metal to us, please consider us the next time you want to get rid of some of what I used to call “junk” and now know that someone, somewhere can either see the art, history, future in that pile of junk either becoming a sculpture in some huge place in Nashville, or from the past, or a new car! The possibility is unlimited.
Thank you for your patience with us as we continue to improve our facilities to serve you better.
We pray that your visit with us will leave you feeling “like you are family” Since Jesus invited us into His family and what He is doing in our lives and knowing that we would not be in business if it wasn’t for Jesus, we want to pass His love and joy and peace and hope on to you.
Thank you our Customer “family”.
UPDATE: October 2005 – we opened our second location in Chase, Michigan!
UPDATE: December 2009 – we opened our third location in Houghton Lake, Michigan!
UPDATE: January 2010 – we opened our fourth location in Sheridan, Michigan!
God has continued to bring new adventures into our hearts and lives. Many trips have been made with family and crew to an Orphanage called “Hands and Feet” in Haiti. God continues to bless us with even a bigger family.
UPDATE: January 22, 2010 – Thank you to everyone who has contacted us regarding the Haiti earth quake and relief efforts! All the children at both the Hands and Feet orphanages in Haiti are safe! Please continue to pray for Haiti and it’s people!
UPDATE: June 22, 2012: Due to economic conditions at this time in our Houghton Lake location, the last day the division will be open is June 29, 2012. We have appreciated serving you over the past three years and ask you to continue to be a customer at our Clare location. We apologize for any inconveniences this may cause but thank you for your understanding during this time.