After 50 years of leading the field of vehicle recycling, well-known local business entrepreneur Sandy Dalgarno is set to retire “…to spend more time with my wife and family and my classic cars and motorcycles…”
Overton Vehicle Dismantlers, off Dyce Drive near Aberdeen Airport, has been a local landmark to incoming air travellers since 1968. Looking down on its neat rows of cars awaiting stripping for parts or recycling, few could imagine the part this local business has played in changing the face of vehicle recycling and motor insurance across the whole UK. Every car owner has benefitted from its success in some way, as has our environment and the industry of recycling.
The business was established in 1968 when Alexander William Dalgarno (Sandy), a time served motor vehicle engineer (trained on Fords at Cordiners, Aberdeen) opened his own car repair and bodyshop business on the existing site. In 1970 Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire Police were having difficulty finding somebody to provide a 24-hour accident recovery service. Never afraid of hard work Sandy bought a Land Rover recovery vehicle, took the contract, and has never looked back.
Left with some of the crashed cars, he started dismantling them and selling the spares. “The first car was a Hillman Imp” he recalls. Today, approximately 150,000 cars later, the business processes 15-16 cars a day, dismantling for spares or recycling, which is now a very sophisticated operation.
In the early years Sandy had to tender for every car from insurance companies, but in 1980 Overton was awarded the first of many insurance contracts, taking in every damaged vehicle from across two thirds of Scotland for Guardian Royal Exchange.
National Salvage Group
In 1984 a group of like-minded businesses met in Darlington, NE England, and formed the National Salvage Group, working together to improve the image of the industry. Eight years later, in 1992, Sandy was elected Chairman of NSG, a role he held for 25 years until stepping down in 2016, having steered the organisation through some major industry changes, most of which endure to today. These include establishing the ‘Certificate of Vehicle destruction’ with the police and DVLA, leading to the ending of salvage vehicle identities being used for cloning stolen or crashed vehicles. Also, working with insurance engineers to establish the system of ‘catagorisation’ of accident damaged vehicles, from easily repaired through to those just to be crushed.
Overton Dismantlers has always been at the forefront of these changes and many other improvements of the environmental efficiency of the motor industry through recycling. Overton was one of the first to be involved in the ‘car end of life’ schemes with manufacturers and has pioneered practices which mean that 95% of every car is now recycled.
A major part of today’s Overton salvage business is the weekly car auction for damaged-repairable vehicles. On behalf of mainly the insurance companies, cars are comprehensively photographed, accurately described and made available for inspection. Buyers from all over the UK can bid throughout the week and the auction finishes on Saturday.
For this work Sandy and Overton have received a number of awards from insurance companies. These include for improvements in salvage and recycling processes, reduction in recovery and storage costs and improved working practices which have saved money and helped them reduce insurance premiums. From one leading insurer Overton was awarded their ‘Overall supplier of the Year’ for saving them over £5m. They were also awarded the Automotive Recyclers Association international ‘Beautification Award’ for their own working practices, caring for the environment, and Sandy himself was awarded the Business and Finance magazine’s top award for ‘Personal Achievement’.
Proud as he is of these recognitions of how far the motor vehicle salvage industry has come, led by NSG and Overton Dismantlers, Sandy looks back fondly on his own motorsport success. As a leading 250cc kart racer in Europe, in 1985 he was one of the European drivers invited by the organisers of the first Australian F1 Grand Prix at Adelaide to participate in a supporting international kart race, which he promptly won! He moved into rallying and participated in the original 1968 London-Sydney marathon in a Mk1 Escort. His performance there led to Ford including him in their works team for the 1970 London-Mexico Rally. 25 years later in 1995 he participated in the anniversary London-Sydney re-run as team-mate to World Rally Champion Hannu Mikkula.
The Overton Team
Reflecting on his time in business Sandy puts his success down to hard work and the team he has around him. “I have been so lucky with people” he reflects “some of my staff have spent a large part of their working lives with Overton and are truly at the heart of the business. It is time for me to retire and hand on to somebody else but I am selling the business as a going concern knowing that whoever takes it over can step right in and has the whole team they need to make it all work.”
The business is being marketed by the Aberdeen office of Graham + Sibbald, www.g-s.co.uk. The sale is being handled by Bruce Murdoch, Partner, and Katherine Monro, Head of Agency, who can be contacted on 01224 625024.
Bruce Murdoch highlighted; “Environmental issues and the drive to recycle is seen by many to be a fairly recent trend, however Overton Garage has been profitably pursuing these objectives for four decades”
ATF Professional wishes Sandy all the best for his retirement and after establishing a good relationship with him, it will be sad to see him ‘hang up his hat’. But until he sells up he told us, “it’s business as usual”.
To find out more from Overton Vehicle Dismantlers visit their website at www.overtongarage.co.uk