Auto recycler keeps up with ever-changing business

10 years ago

    PRESQUE ISLE, Maine — In the words of Bob Dylan, “The times they are a changin’,” and so too are the ways auto repairs are done.

    TIM COWETT, owner of Car Parts, an auto recycling center, examines a car mirror — one of several used and after-market parts he sells at the 75 Davis St. business in Presque Isle.

    Tim Cowett, owner of Car Parts at 75 Davis St. — an auto recycling center — has found ways to meet the ever-changing needs of do-it-yourself mechanics and others in search of the perfect part to get their vehicles back in working order.

    Cowett has been working in the automotive business for more than two decades, getting his start completing his education.

    “I’ve been in business 22 years — basically have done this all my life. I originally started back in 1980, when I was a junior at Presque Isle High School. It was between my junior and senior year. It was a tough senior year, running my business and trying to finish school,” said Cowett.

    Whatever the need, Cowett likely can find just what you’re looking for to fix your car or truck.

    “We do just about anything automotive, from fix your vehicle to selling you the parts to do it yourself,” said Cowett.

    He said the business of selling used auto parts has changed considerably since he first opened his doors.

    “You can save a great deal of money in large items, like motors and differentials. But in the smaller market, after-market parts beat us out, due to the warranties they can provide, etc. It’s a tough business out there today,” he said. “My customers include garages to individuals wanting to do their own repairs.”

    Though he sells or can locate just about anything a person might need for an automotive repair job, Cowett said one particular item outsells the rest.

    “The most common request I get today is for used tires. Given the price of buying tires new, many people opt to find something used that will serve the purpose — get them down the road a few more miles and tide them over until they can find new,” said Cowett.

    “We also sell a lot of after-market headlights, taillights, door handles and tailgate handles, as well as mirrors — rear-view and side,” continued Cowett.

    Cowett obtains his parts in various ways, acquiring some vehicles through the insurance process following an accident or purchasing junked vehicles from owners, then stripping parts for sale, or through other vendors throughout the country.

    “I have a database of companies across the U.S. If I don’t have what a person needs, I will work with other vendors to locate the item,” he said. “I can locate parts and get prices, including warranties.”

    Unlike other salvage companies, Cowett can also install parts and more.

    “I work on cars during the winter months, in addition to selling parts. If someone needs a motor installed, for example, they can purchase it from me and then have me put it in,” said Cowett. “We install everything we sell, if need be.”

    In the summer, Cowett puts on yet another hat — this time working in the scrap metal market.

    “In the summer months, I shift gears. That’s when I primarily buy and sell scrap metal. Pretty much everything I do is geared toward recycling,” said Cowett.

    He also serves as maintenance specialist for the U.S. Postal Service.

    “I work on the U.S. Postal Service Jeeps. It’s contract work I’ve done for the last 15 years,” said Cowett.

    Cowett said a lot has changed since he first got into the auto recycling business.

    “When I got started, it wasn’t unusual for a teenager to work in a garage and go to school. Now it’s harder to do internships. Getting a kid interested in a job like this at a young age often leads to them staying in the area when they get older. But if you wait until they’re in college to pick up a tool for the first time, they’ll likely look elsewhere to work when they graduate. Making that local connection at an earlier age makes a difference,” said Cowett.

    The secret to his success he says is being able to transition, depending on the season, to keep up with an ever-changing business landscape.

    “In today’s world, you have to be very versatile. It’s very expensive to be in business today. Every move you make has to be the right move,” said Cowett.

    To learn more about the business or see if they have the part you need, call 762-3048. Business hours are Monday-Friday, 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.