By Ben Lawson
With years of auto mechanic work under his belt, Kevin Smith saw an opportunity to start a business the right way. His focus starts with batteries, but it doesn’t end there.
Smith grew up around engines. His father owned an auto shop for 30 years, giving him the necessary knowledge to finally dive into his own business. He enlisted the help of his brother-in-law Jim Aikens, who had worked as a painter in Georgia for 35 years. Aikens was ready for something new and moved to Tennessee to join Smith in founding United Auto Core Recyclers.
Their goal is to provide a service not available with big scrap yards, who force customers to haul material themselves and pay little in return.
“I come to them,” Smith said. “If they have an old battery lying around, we buy it from them.”
The company purchases and recycles batteries, alternators, starters and old junked cars. By coming to customers and offering better deals, Smith said they have steadily built a strong customer base since starting Jan. 7.
“Most of our business is done through shops,” he said. “We’re not big like the other guys. We’re on the street every day hitting shops.”
In addition to auto shops, Smith indicated that they’ll make house calls, too, if a homeowner has a battery to recycle. They travel all over Tennessee and the south east, averaging 300 – 400 miles a day for pickups.
“Now we’re starting to build a loyal client base,” Smith said.
Smith attributes their success to their dedication to offering better prices than the big companies and by following stricter EPA rules than the smaller ones. For an average 35 pound battery, a scarp yard would pay out $8, while Smith gives $10. He also went though the steps to become fully licensed in Seymour as a scrap dealer, holds a business license with Sevierville and with the Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance.
Smith stresses the importance of handling batteries by the letter of the law since batteries leaking acid will draw the attention of the EPA.
“I could have done it without (the license) but it’s a risk,” he said. “We’re not about that.”
Right now, United Auto Core Recyclers does not have a permanent location, though they hope to open up a facility sometime in the future to focus on auto parts. Until then, interested parties can reach Smith at 306-2513.
Battery Business Booming
By Ben Lawson