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Crunch time: Yank-A-Part still holds close ties to the original owner
POULSBO — The Yank-A-Part auto wrecking business was once a chicken house. Literally. The chicken house, which held about 2,000 chickens and produced eggs for a market, is significantly different today. Now known as Yank-A-Part Auto Wrecking, the original owner of the property has not forgotten what once was. In fact, Jim Anderson doesn’t let others forget what the auto wrecking business once was.
“Every time I go in there I crow like a rooster, because it used to be my chicken house,” the original owner of Jim’s Auto Wrecking said laughing. Yank-A-Part is now owned by Dave Ellis, Brad Johnson and Mike Johnson. The business partners acquired the auto yard in 2007. It was transformed from roost to wreck in 1962 by Anderson, when he received the proper permits. Before that, the land was owned by Anderson’s wife’s grandparents, who had owned it since the late 1800s. This year marks the 50th anniversary the wrecking yard has existed.
Although it’s under different ownership and a different name, Anderson still feels welcome. Brad Johnson has known Anderson since he was a kid, he said. Johnson, who’s family still owns 20 acres below the wrecking yard, makes drop-in visits about once every other week.
Anderson said the wrecking yard has seen significant changes since it first became Jim’s Autowrecking. The largest changes from when he relinquished ownership, however, happened after the three current owners took over. Before the three business partners took over, it passed between three other people.
“You don’t see too many businesses that have been out here that long,” Johnson said. “Wrecking yards are becoming extinct.”
In the past 20 years, Johnson said he’s seen about four or five go out of business. In North Kitsap, Yank-A-Part is the only auto wrecking business. After taking over in 2007 Johnson and the rest of the crew have worked to clean up the property and catch the business up to speed. The main building, which was once a chicken roost and did not see a whole lot of improvement aesthetically, boasts fresh paint on top of remodels. The garbage, which Johnson said was measured in yards when they took over, is cleared. All the cars face one direction for a uniform look.
Generally, owner Dave Ellis said, the yard has between 700 and 750 vehicles. In all, the business gets about 1,000 vehicles per year.
Though it’s still a pull-apart yard, allowing anyone to come in to scrounge for parts, a lot of business is now done online and over the phone.
Yank-A-Part is now part of www.car-part.com, a consortium of wrecking yards. Going online helped, especially for a business in the Northwest. Online shoppers, Johnson said jokingly, don’t know or care what the weather is like in Poulsbo.
“That last snow [Jan. 17-20], we had a huge day,” Johnson said. “People paid for everything over the phone and, as soon as the weather cleared, we shipped everything off.”
With the economy the way it is, Johnson said the business has done well, since people are fixing up their current vehicles instead of buying new ones. On Jan. 31, Anderson made one of his visits to the wrecking yard. Some of his family still live in the other 20 acres that is driven through to get to the yard.
Thinking back to when he first started in the business, Anderson said it began when he owned a gas station, which is now Kitsap Tire. A year later he purchased a tow truck and went into business. At first, all the vehicles he acquired were put on the lower-half of his property on Stottlemeyer Road. Naturally, he said, the county quickly came after him.
He moved his cars up to the upper 10 acres, which is now Yank-A-Part. It’s been running ever since.