Baxenden Car Breakers’ brothers, John and James Spencer, talked candidly to ATF Professional about their vehicle recycling operation in Accrington, Lancashire, and how they hope to see continued growth with the use of their amusing, yet informative YouTube videos.
When we first met, you mentioned how you had been to Vehicle Recycling University. What did you mean?
Well, our first experience of stripping and selling a car on eBay was when we were about 13 years old, so that’s about 18 years ago. Since then, we have started our business and spent the last nine years facing the industry head on. We started from nothing, meaning we had to learn everything ourselves from how to strip a car, right up to dealing with the accounts.
Obviously, with starting a business from scratch, there is a lot you need to learn and if we were to start again, we would do it very differently because of what we know now.
We started on classic cars and we know everything there is to know about them. Sometimes people try to challenge our knowledge, but so far, they have not succeeded.
We moved onto modern vehicles later in our career, and we have also gained a great understanding of these as well. So when taking a step back, and looking at all we have learnt, we often describe the experience as similar to completing a university degree, but in vehicle recycling, except this has been a much longer process!
Now that you have “graduated”, can you describe your current setup, investment plans and growth?
We are rolling full steam ahead. We have recently updated our ramps and built new garages on-site. We also are waiting for some brand-new de-pollution equipment to be delivered, so it’sall very exciting.
Moving forward we are still growing the number of garages we have on site, increasing our listing numbers by the day and also looking into breaking electric vehicles. As well as this, we are hoping to expand our recycling services a little further, but this is still in development, so we will keep you posted.
Continuing on the university qualification theme, what do you think you have to do to gain a PhD to take your company to the next level? Also, what challenges do you see that you may have to face to achieve this?
To gain a PhD, I think we need to be able to accelerate the company at a speed that allows us to compete with the big yards that have been going for a lot longer than us. The biggest challenge for us I think will be having the space to do this, but we are already looking at solutions to this problem. That being said, we feel confident that in the near future, we will be even closer to graduating with our PhD.
As a duo, you seem very excited for the future of your company and the industry in general. Why is this?
As brothers, we are very close and bounce ideas off each other constantly, which helps us to keep going through the harder times. We didn’t have much growing up and had to buy the things we wanted ourselves. When we were 13/14, our dad had an old Ford Cortina that came with loads of spare bits, so we sold them all on eBay and saved up for a quad bike and that’s where the initial idea came from. So, from a young age, we have both been very motivated people, and we always knew how well we could do in the industry, and now, we are finally close to that dream.
As a company looking at future growth, what do you consider the most significant factors you need to consider and be prepared for?
Looking at future growth, for our operation, there are three factors we need to consider.
- Yard size and storage. As we stock more and more parts, the yard is filling up, we are already in quite a big site but the possibility of expanding our site (or even sites) is becoming more and more appealing to facilitate our growth.
- The increase in the popularity of electric cars means the market is also going to expand. We think starting early with this will allow us to be front-runners in the industry.
- Efficiency, as the yard grows so does the responsibilities associated with factors such as human resources, finance, sales, and health & safety to name a few. Therefore, in order to maintain efficiency, we need to grow our other departments alongside our business.
You have several YouTube videos online that highlight and share your journey as you build your yard. Why did you decide to do this, and do you think it helps communicate with your customers?
We have always wanted to have some kind of YouTube presence but never felt like we were in a position to do so. But since starting the videos, the response has been great and we’ve really enjoyed hearing the feedback from our viewers. It’s interesting to hear the different opinions from our customers. Somebody has even asked for a Baxenden Car Breakers Hi-Vis to be sent to them! We hope to grow our channel to a point that generates an income for us so we can then ask our viewers how they want us to invest the money. In making these videos, we believe we have something quite unique, and with such a response and the number of hits, we hope it will accelerate the company even more.