By LeRae Haynes —
Cariboo Auto Recyclers has changed with the times to keep up with and exceed environmental standards. For more than 60 years the company has provided a wide range of automotive services throughout the Cariboo-Chilcotin, helping people replace, reclaim, and recycle. Today,, the company consistently receives gold- and platinum-level certification from the Automotive Recyclers Environmental Association, and has since its very first inspection.
“It’s a far cry from the days when my dad used to use old oil to keep the dust down in the driveway,” explains owner Rennie Johnson . “My generation doesn’t come from recycling—I’ve had to learn a lot and the changes are good.
“Every single battery and every tire is accounted for. We have containment within containment for oil and special containers for batteries and antifreeze. We recycle and buy damaged vehicles, sell used parts, and do repairs. We recycle everything: all metals, tires, fluids, and batteries. We take only three small bags of garbage to the dump every week.
“All paper is shredded and used to wrap parts for shopping. Every drop of fluid from every vehicle that comes in is drained and contained and mercury switches are pulled for recycling.”
Cariboo Auto Recyclers started out as Lakeside Service and Auto, launched by Nestor Johnson in 1954. Rennie and his younger brother Dean started working there as teens and are second generation owners. In 1965, the business was moved to its current location at 150 Mile House. Cariboo Auto technician Matt Kennedy has been with the company for 16 years, ever since he started riding his bike there to work after school.
Cariboo Auto Recyclers does auto and auto parts supply and recycling, auto wrecking, and mechanical repairs.
Supporting the community is important at Cariboo Auto Recyclers. Its owners have donated to a wide range of organization including the Salvation Army, the 150 Mile Fire Department, Search and Rescue, 4-H, Dry Grad, and many more over the years.
“They were so helpful and supportive,” says Murray Hoffman, who built the façade of a red double-decker 1953 bus for Dry Grad that was used two years in a row. “I went out there several times for axels, wheels, and a whole pile of lights, a license plate and steering wheel. Matt knew about the right backing plates and spindles—he knew exactly what I needed.”
Johnson and Kennedy explain that customers come to them looking for everything from engine parts, heater control knobs, and seats, to an entire carpet or a whole vehicle that can be cut in half. “We can find what people need, networking with auto wreckers across North America,” says Kennedy.
Technology changes but customer service stays the same, says Johnson. “Customer service really hasn’t changed for us over the years. We have four licensed technicians and will still install any part people need. My dad always said if we don’t have it, we can find it,” he says.
Kennedy notes previous generations have definitely left an environmental footprint with ozone-depleting substances. “We’re seeing the effects of it now,” he says. “It’s still in the air from the 70s. There have been significant changes in recycling programs and regulations, and awareness and education has increased. Today, manufacturers are being forced to produce more earth-friendly products. I think regulations are good; without them it would be a free-for-all,” he says.
“The times they are a-changin and it’s a good thing.”
For more information about Cariboo Auto Recyclers phone (250) 296-3343, drop by the shop at 2995 Cariboo Hwy 97 in 150 Mile House, or visit www.cariboorautorecyclers.ca.
LeRae is a freelance writer, songwriter, co-producer of “Pursicles,” and the community co-ordinator for Success by 6. She is also the instigator of a lot of musical shenanigans in Williams Lake including “Borderband” with kids and is a member of the “Perfect Match” dance band