Busbee’s Trucks and Parts
Doug Busbee started Busbee’s Trucks and Parts in 1987 as a small paint and auto body shop, and has seen his business through changes both great and small in his home town of Wagener, South Carolina. Wagener, a small town with a population that seems to hover around 800, was once busy with work provided by the Wagener Manufacturing Company. In the late 1990’s, however, the Manufacturing Company closed up shop and left, like so many other companies forced out of business as textile manufacturing moved overseas. The town lost employment as well as the overall economic activity generated by having a large facility in their midst, and everyone suffered, including Busbee’s.
In 2004, things started to turn around at Busbee’s, not because manufacturing had come back, but rather because Doug was able to see the benefit of change in two different ways: he started uploading his salvage inventory onto a website on the internet and greatly increased his potential audience. He also took a chance in 2006 and expanded into medium-duty trucks for his salvage yard. Now, in 2017, Doug has 20 full-time employees and 3 part-time, up from 6 full-time and 3 part-time in 2004. Over the past few years, he has been sufficiently confident in the stability of his company to enter into local politics, working to protect the health of the river he has known since his childhood, the Edisto.
Within these 30 years, Doug has seen a lot and learned a lot, and if he were to give advice to someone starting out now in the salvage business, he would say this:
- Surround yourself with good people and then take care of them: In return, they will take care of you. Certain things are simple: if you want respect, you must show respect. (if you take a look at the Busbee website, you will see in the company profile that there is a certain longevity to the employees who are with him, many for at least 5 years and others upwards of 25).
- Keep things clean:
- Your yard: seriously, on a very practical level, keep your yard clean on a consistent basis. When your trucks come in, drain them as soon as you can. Keep things organized and manageable, don’t let things pile up or get out of hand. It’s always easier to get things done right in the beginning than having to go back afterwards and clean up a mess that just expands;
- Your records: keep your financial records straight and clean. If you get behind or do things inconsistently, it will catch up with you and it won’t be fun. This also relates to having good people on board: whoever is in charge of your records needs to be organized and on top of things.
- Embrace change: you will have to change at certain points along the way, and you need to accept this. If you are resistant to change or don’t see it as a necessity, you won’t progress. When Busbee took a chance on the internet in 2004, for example, it changed everything. At the very moment he needed to find a different customer base, the internet gave it to him though his website. Had he not had the internet, his company would not have survived. Same thing with taking on the medium duty truck market in 2006: had he not diversified in this way, he would not have grown the way he has.
If you have been in business for 30 years, you’ll learn a few things along the way, and Doug Busbee is certainly an example of that. The advice he has to give is solid and based on reality and will steer you in the right direction.