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Elmira business melds car parts and metal recycling

Locals now have an option in Elmira to scrap their car, find affordable car parts, and get rid of their scrap metal, with the opening of 86 Auto and Metal Recyclers and U-Pull-It Elmira on Apr. 1.

Owner Frank Rattasid runs a similar business, albeit larger, in Listowel, which he opened three years ago. The Elmira location operates on the former Paleshi Motors site on Arthur Street next to the Elmira Pet Products plant.

They run a hybrid yard where they recycle cars and scrap metal, and people can also come pull their own parts off of old cars for a fraction of the price they’d pay for brand new.

“The scrap metal industry and the auto wrecking industry were always separate from each other. The car guys dealt with the cars and the scrap metal guys dealt with scrap metal. What we did was we combined the two because the end product, whether you have a scrap car that you crushed or you have a scrap fridge or a vacuum cleaner, an old bicycle that you crush, it goes into the same pot and gets melted down because it’s all steel. So we figured, ‘okay, if we’re doing one we can combine the two together,’” Rattasid explained.

He started bringing in cars six months ago to the property. There are about 300 cars there now, and he has a capacity of 450.

People can search their website to see which cars they have in stock and then come to the salvage yard with their own tools and pull the parts themselves and pay a set price, which is the same for all vehicles.

Frank Rattasid hopes 86 Auto and Metal Recyclers and U-Pull-It Elmira will be well used by the community for recycling scrap metal and pulling parts for their vehicles.[Whitney Neilson / The Observer]
Frank Rattasid hopes 86 Auto and Metal Recyclers and U-Pull-It Elmira will be well used by the community for recycling scrap metal and pulling parts for their vehicles. [Whitney Neilson / The Observer]
“We’ve gone back to the simpler route and the reason being is there are a lot of people that don’t necessarily have the budget to go buy car parts that are expensive, so we’re trying to save people money by you do the labour, you save some money,” Rattasid said.

For example, he called one of the salvage yards in Kitchener to see what it would cost to get a used car door from them. They sell their doors and mirrors separately, whereas the door and mirror are included for $50 at 86 Auto and Metal Recyclers.

“They priced me $200 on a door and $100 on a mirror. Granted you go there and they hand you the door but you come here and you undo two bolts and you cut the little harness and take the door with you.”

There’s a 30-day warranty on all the parts, so if they don’t fit you can bring them back and pull one off another car in the yard. You can also bring in your old part that you’re replacing and get some money for it because it can be crushed down into scrap metal.

“We buy steel by the tonne and we buy non-ferrous materials. So anything that’s aluminum, copper, brass, anything the magnet won’t stick to, we buy by the pound,” Rattasid said.

You can even bring in your old farm equipment to be recycled. As long as it’s metal they’ll buy it.

He says they decided to buy the Elmira property because they saw a need in the community, especially with the Elmira transfer station closing. Woolwich Township administrators haven’t been entirely receptive to the venture, however.

“Elmira’s growing like crazy. You’ve got close to 5,000 houses coming in now through all the subdivisions. There really was nowhere for people to take their stuff.”

On top of the five acres he’s currently using he owns another seven behind the fence. He’s not allowed to build on it though because of environmental constraints – it’s home to a former municipal landfill site. He’s collecting petition signatures to bring to the township to show the support for him to be able to use the additional seven acres, which would mean he could hold 1,500 cars, and hire more people to work in the yard.

“We would like our additional seven acres. It’s sitting there doing nothing. And it’s not like it’s not contaminated land. We dug down 17 feet because we had to put the pylons in for the scale. The stink, you can’t imagine. We couldn’t find solid ground. Seventeen feet down all we found was garbage. This land couldn’t be any more contaminated than what it is,” Rattasid said.

And while a salvage yard sounds like it can’t be great for the environment, they’re actually doing their part to not cause more damage. They drain all the fluids out of the vehicles they bring in before they go in the yard, and pull out all the batteries and tires. The batteries are tested, charged, and sold if they’re good. Tires and batteries are sold separately for $20 apiece.

“We changed the fence, we cleaned up the parking lot, we cleaned up the yard. We hauled seven trailers of crap out of here, 53-foot trailers, that’s once the cars were gone. Never mind that they crushed cars without draining the fluids. It was an environmental nightmare here,” Rattasid said.

You can sell your car to them by the tonne, or if it’s in good enough shape to be sold for parts, they might pay more for it.

Woolwich doesn’t have zoning for a recycling or auto wrecking yard. The property has an M1 or industrial/commercial zoning. The township added to the site plan agreement, saying the property can be used as a salvage yard for motor vehicles.

He’d like the zoning to be changed.

“Instead of taking a pen and putting a line through ‘for motor vehicles,’ because that’s all they had to do, they added to the agreement, so now I can have a scrap collection bin that I can collect steel in. I can’t have the kind of staff that I would have in Listowel because we’re really not allowed to run the business on a large scale. They kind of allowed it, but we still don’t have the right zoning. That’s why right now we’re doing a petition. Hopefully the township will see the light, they’ll see that it’s a needed business,” he said.

Despite only having opened some two weeks ago, he’s already seeing customers come in from across the region to see what cars they have in stock to pull from. And his business is bringing customers to other local businesses.

“There was a gentleman that came last week. He came in and he said I need a plug for my tow hitch on my GMC truck. I said we’ve got one out there. He said well I don’t have any tools with me. And I said I’m sorry we don’t lend out tools. Sometimes we get 100 people in the yard, we just can’t hand out tools. He says ‘okay, no problem.’ He goes, ‘I’ll be back in five minutes, I’m just going to run up the street to NAPA and buy a pair of pliers,’” Rattasid said.

Up to 200 people visit his Listowel location on a Saturday to pull car parts and they recycle 50 tonnes of scrap metal per day. With proper zoning, the Elmira site could do the same.

“People do come in here. And they will come in much more droves.”

His 86 Auto and Metal Recyclers and U-Pull-It Elmira are open Monday to Friday 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturdays 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. To see what cars they have in stock to pull parts from check out www.upullit.ca.

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