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hen Burgandi Carr drives home from work each
night, she oen makes a few stops along the way.
“I live in Albia (Iowa), which is about 30 miles
from here, and there is a small town between us,” explained
Carr, the general manager for Van Gorp Auto Recyclers in
Oskaloosa, Iowa. “So I oer to deliver parts to customers from
those towns on my way home, just to make it a little more
convenient to them. We also oer to stay open a little later by
appointment for those that can’t quite make it here by ve dur-
ing the weekdays.”
is kind of attention to customer service is one reason
Van Gorp Auto Recyclers has been in business for more than
50 years. e company was founded in Pella, Iowa in 1962 by
Marion Van Gorp (better known as “Junior”) and his brother,
Dirk Van Gorp.
“(Junior) was rebuilding cars, and to make more money
from doing so, he decided to sell the parts that were le over
from the rebuilders, knowing that there was a market for that
stu,” Carr explained.
Legal troubles with the city of Pella in 1963 forced the
company to move to Oskaloosa. In 1965, Dirk and Junior set
up shop in the location that the business still occupies today.
“One of Dirk and Junior’s friends had told them about this
site being for sale,” Carr said. “It was actually the ideal place for
a salvage yard.”
e business was one of the rst salvage yards in Iowa and
the Van Gorps helped to develop the auto salvage industry
throughout the state. Dirk and Junior helped set up the state’s
rst “hoot and holler” line, a system to locate parts statewide.
Junior still owns the company but Dirk sold his share and
opened his own business. “(Dirk) has since retired but stops by
the shop a few times a week to say hi,” Carr added.
Carr joined the company in 2007 as a counter salesperson
and became Van Gorp Auto Recyclers’ general manager in
2011. Since Carr took the manager position, she has overseen a
reorganization process and the building of a new o!ce space.
“e o!ce before was kind of a ‘catch all,’ so we cleaned all
the junk and miscellaneous parts out of it, rearranged some
shelves and added a new o!ce,” she said. “Now the "oors are
swept and the counters are cleaned every day, which makes it a
lot more presentable.”
Carr’s new o!ce was built about a year ago.
“It is a 14-by-12-foot area that overlooks the front lot, so
it makes a great place for me to be able to look out and see
people looking at the vehicles we have for sale,” she explained.
“We took out the wall between my old o!ce and the new, and
they are joined together. We use the old o!ce for car sales.”
Carr believes Van Gorp Auto Recyclers stands apart from
other yards because of its longevity in the industry.
“We have been in business for so long that we have been able
to see the highs and lows over the years,” she said. “For starters,
the highs and lows of scrap prices, those are obviously always
changing. ere have been years that were so low that we just
sat on our inventory and not crushed until the next year when
prices were really good. Also, years ago you never had to deal
with all these aermarket companies as competition. Now it is
a struggle trying to compete with their prices.”
Despite the ups and downs, many of Van Gorp Auto
Recyclers’ employees have been with the company for 20 years
“Don’t get me wrong, we have hired a few that haven’t
worked out, but you will have that anywhere,” Carr said. “We
are a very down-to-earth group of people who all know what,
when and how things need to be done.”
Burgandi Carr and Junior
Van Gorp make sure Van Gorp
Auto Recyclers lives up to its
reputation as an institution in
Iowa auto recycling.