Jake Hanson is in charge of the 14-employee operation at B&K Auto Salvage, which has expanded into scrap metal recycling. (Bill Rautenstrauch/For The Observer)
Union County business celebrates four decades of salvaging autos; expands its operations to include scrap metal recycling
It’s entertainment watching Jake Hanson work.
From his corner office at B&K Auto Salvage, he multi-tasks, taking money in and paying money out, answering the phone and giving orders to his employees over a two-way radio. At times, he stands up and leans out a window, directing traffic in and out of the yard.
He’s in charge of a 14-employee operation, a basically recession-proof business that’s thrived at its location out on Highway 203 near Pierce Road for as long as most locals can remember.
This month, the business celebrates 40 years as B&K. Not only that, it’s expanding into a new arena: scrap metal recycling. Though it’s hard to get Hanson to sit still long enough to say it, it’s easy to tell he is happy with the way things have gone.
“Forty years means that the business has been well liked in the community,” he said during a short break in Tuesday afternoon’s action. “I believe it’s a necessary business. It helps people save money on auto parts, and it’s putting money back into pockets with the scrap metal,” he said.
Hanson isn’t sure who owned the yard before 1973, but he does know that was the year Bill and Ken Goss, the owners of M.J. Goss Motor Co. in La Grande, bought it. That’s how it came to be called B&K.
Hanson, a local boy, worked in sales at the yard until 2003, when he, his father Delmer and his wife, Katie, bought the business. Hanson said that for him, the purchase was the best career move ever.
“I was born and raised in Union County, and I wanted to stay local. This is what I enjoy doing. I love cars and auto parts, and I love helping the customers,” he said.
Hanson is proud that under his watch, B&K has become a thoroughly modern enterprise, with a computer tracking the parts inventory. When a cost-conscious customer comes in looking for that part his car simply won’t run without, he or she knows in an instant whether it’s in stock or can be obtained through a nationwide parts locator.
“Keeping track of the computer inventory is a heck of a job,” Hanson said.
“One guy could do that seven days a week and never get caught up.”
Recently, the Hanson family decided the time is right for another expansion. As B&K celebrates the beginning of its fifth decade in business, it is opening a scrap metal recycling center, one that takes in everything from auto bodies and engine blocks to aluminum, stainless steel, iron, loose tin and plenty more.
“The auto salvage and scrap businesses go hand in hand, and we felt there is a need in the county for another recyclingcenter,” Hanson said.
He said the recycling business is not only offering services for companies, but for individuals as well. B&K offers pick-up of the items.
“We basically hope to keep it growing, and get people used to the idea they can recycle their common household items,” he said.
From 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday, B&K plans a customer appreciation day and a recycle center grand opening. In addition to questions about recycling, people should bring their appetites, since free hot dogs will be served from 10 a.m. on.
Hanson said the barbecue being used to cook the hot dogs is worth coming to see.
“An employee at our Caldwell, Idaho, shop got a wild idea and built it.
It’s in the shape of a big six- shooter,” he said.
He said he and his family look forward to thanking the community for its ongoing support.
“We’ve been locally owned and operated since 1973. Part of the reason for the day is to introduce our recycling business, but we also want to show our appreciation for 40 years of business in the community,” he said.