Paul French, Director at Salvo Group Ltd., suppliers of car parts, talks about the business, from investing in inventory software, the day to day running, to what he believes to be the future of the vehicle recycling industry.
Salvo Group is a family business that was started in the 90s by my parents. I later joined the company in my mid-teens. The company was built upon breaking Renaults, Fiats, Peugeots, Citroens and Saabs, but has since diversified into breaking all vehicles.
My position is now director, and until last year, the company hadn’t used any inventory software.
Paul, what was the turning point to invest in inventory software?
We took advantage of the first lockdown back in March 2020; we shut down for a couple of months, and we were able to re-evaluate and have time to do a huge stock take of all our parts. We had some great weather, so we laid them all out across the yard. At that time, our only reference to an inventory was eBay, so we went through the parts and marked everything off. We discovered some items we were unaware of which had been on the shelves for years. We decided it was long overdue to invest in some inventory, and now all our stock is on the database.
Tell us about the Salvo Group set-up
My father taught me how to dismantle cars and remove parts, a skill which I have practised since my teenage years. I also have a class one driver’s licence, which allows me to drive lorries. So I can pretty much do any job in the yard, which is great, particularly if any cover is needed.
The team at Salvo Group is amazing and I feel very fortunate to work with such a great group of people. One of the team members is my partner, Kelly Brookes, who is head of sales and is in charge of eBay and counter sales, and without her running this part of the business, I would be unable to concentrate on the scrap side of it.
Regarding the eBay b2b scheme, we qualified earlier this year. It’s a really good platform for green parts. It offers a level playing field; companies, whether large or small, provided they run their yard to a good standard, can have the opportunity to use this platform.
The majority of our cars come in through our website. We advertise, but it is generally through word of mouth, which comes down to my parent’s influence; they built a really good concrete pad for me to build on.
We will break any car from a 2002 Corsa to a 2018 VW Golf. We will break any VIM. The business started as a specialist company, breaking Renaults, Fiats, Peugeots, Citroens, Volvos and Saabs, and over the years, we adapted. We will break any vehicle now, but we will continue to adapt to keep up with the industry’s constant changes. And now that we have the inventory system set up, with vehicles coming into the yard, we know which parts can be shelved and which can be scrapped at the click of a button.
The industry has moved so far forward compared to how it was. It’s becoming a respectable industry in terms of safety, production and recycling as well. Back in the day, it was a little bit left behind, but now I believe it is a significant industry to be in, and I am proud to be part of it – 100%. I live, breathe, and have everything to do with this industry. I absolutely love my job.
What changes have you noticed in the industry?
Over the past 20 years, in my opinion, the public perception of vehicle recycling has changed. As a society, we are more and more aware of the necessities to recycle, not just our vehicles but everything to preserve the environment. We understand more and more that being a throwaway society is not sustainable.
People will want to keep their vehicles for longer. In an ideal world, we would like to have the same business model as America, where they give the option of a brand new OEM part and a genuine recycled OEM part upgraded to a high standard; in the UK, it is slowly evolving in this direction. Green parts are the ultimate solution for this.
Online sales have increased and will continue to grow. We will see fewer people coming into our yards (COVID aside) which is sad in some ways as you will no longer have that face to face service, but good in a way that it opens up more business to more people further afield.
What changes have you seen in your yard?
The new inventory system has changed the way we operate. Everything is barcoded, meaning that parts, which in some cases are almost identical, are no longer mixed up due to their unique reference number. In terms of organisation, the business now runs more efficiently.
As I mentioned in the changes I have seen in the industry, selling parts online has increased business for us too. Even local garages order our parts via eBay instead of coming directly to us because people are becoming more and more used to buying in this way.
What’s on the horizon for Salvo Group, and what do you see as the future of the industry?
We’ve invested heavily in the recycling side of the yard. Currently, we are investing in the parts side of the business for green parts. In the future, we will be investing heavily in hybrid and electric vehicles. It’s already talked about, and it’s going to become such a big part of the industry, so we need to keep up with the changes and be ready.
There are concerns, particularly when it comes to the ownership of the batteries. Still, at Salvo Group, we are preparing for it, and we’re trying to buy in electric and hybrid vehicles. We’re also beginning to organise and train the staff to get them up to speed.
Although the future is electric and hybrid, it is still under development, and every recycler I have talked to is keen on working with these vehicles. Still, it seems that they are waiting for the procedures and policies to be put in place to know how to recycle them fully. Ultimately, I believe the industry will adapt and take on EV recycling head-on.