This month we are excited to interview Doug Williams of Eagle Auto Parts of Martinsburg, West Virginia! Doug and his wife purchased what is now Eagle from its previous owners in 1983, and have been on staff ever since!

“At the time I was driving an 18-wheeler, was newly married, right out of high school, but had the urge to be self-employed and a friend had told me about this business in Martinsburg that was going to be for sale, a salvage business,” Doug recalled. “I went over and visited Tom and Marie Beam (the original owners) and decided to buy their yard! So my wife and I went out and borrowed $25,000, which was a lot of money for us back then, but we borrowed the money, financed the rest and we bought it in 1983 and we’ve been here ever since!”

Now that he had the business Doug got to work, “Well, when we started, it was myself and one other employee. My wife didn’t work in the business. She has a separate career, but she did all of our bookkeeping and payroll and stuff for about 10 years when we first started just to get going in this business. I really didn’t know anything about the salvage business!”

Despite a lack of knowledge about the salvage business, Doug was undeterred and sought out other members of the salvage industry to learn from them and get to know not only the industry, but the family he is now a part of.

“I just had the drive to work hard. One thing we’ve done here at Eagle is I’ve always reached out to the experts in the business. So early on, I reached out to consultants and that’s how we really came to know DJ, was through some consultants. We’ve worked with DJ a lot throughout the years of our business for training for our salespeople.”

Doug went on, “I really leaned heavily on the experts in our industry for knowledge and what to do. It’s been very successful and it’s fortunate that we have those people who are willing to help the people, like me, who really had no idea because it wasn’t a generational thing. I didn’t grow up seeing my dad do it or my uncle do it. Nobody in our history ever had anything to do with a recycling yard. So, I reached out to the experts, counted on them and trusted them and here we are today!”

When we asked Doug about Eagle Auto’s ability to keep employees long term, he offered the following, “We’ve been approached by several different people about buying our facility. But I was really concerned because we had some long-term employees. We had some people that had been with us for, you know, 20-30 years, at the time of one of our potential sales. I know a lot of times when somebody else buys a yard, they come in and change everything and I was really concerned about those long-term people who have supported our business for so long. So we rejected those offers.”


“Fortunately, we had a good relationship with a company out of Hagerstown, Maryland, Conserve It, which is a big scrap processor and we had been selling them our scrap cars for years. We ended up striking up a conversation and were able to sell to them,” Doug stated. “The big thing there is that they are an ESOP. We are an employee-owned company. ESOP stands for Employee Stock Ownership Program. You have to work here to own stock. It’s not publicly traded. You can’t buy it unless you work here. That is how it is today. So it’s an employee stock ownership program. Every worker here has a part of the business, we’re all owners. So that really solidified the deal because I felt like all those people then had ownership in the company that they had spent so many years working for, when Laura and I owned it.”

Moving on to employee enrichment, Doug discussed his recent trip to St Louis for the combined PRP/URG Training Conference, “I’m just amazed that some people that I talked to in our industry have never been! There is so much information and we really enjoy the URG Conference! The speakers are all excellent, even down to the timing, I mean, everything is right on time. They start on time, they end on time. URG does a fantastic job of keeping these conferences moving. The yard tour bus trip we took this year, we learned so much in those two days of travel. But I think that’s important for your employees. For one, it gets them away from work, which is always kind of cool and they get to travel, and they get to go different places. I think it’s very important that you bring your people, let them know that you care enough to bring them to be a part of what’s going on.”

Doug Williams is the General Manager of Eagle Auto Parts, in Martinsburg, West Virginia. 

For more with Doug, check out the full interview on the ‘U-R-G On the Go’ podcast, hosted by DJ Harrington.

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