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      From assembly line to disassembly line with a profit

      It's the end of the road for a vehicle after a wreck, or is it? At Superior Auto Parts in Negaunee Township, the Grill family business thrives on what some consider junk.

      "If the cost is too much to fix the car, then you pull the good parts off and sell the good parts," said Bill Grill, Jr., owner of Superior Auto Parts.

      Their salvage yard is littered with up to 200 vehicles at any given time. Many are totaled, but others were purchased at insurance auctions. They sell a little bit of everything, normally at a cheaper price, especially for a customer looking for that one small part for their vehicle rather than a whole new set of items.

      "Even a new rebuilt alternator is anywhere from $100 to $200. We're selling good used ones anywhere from $35 to $75," Grill said.

      Superior Auto Parts strips down about 500 cars a year. Since 2005, Grill reports he's dealt with about 3500 cars. Dismantler James Reed has stripped thousands in his 11 years in the salvage yard. A single car sometimes demands a full day of work.

      "Whatever they want, get a work order, and you just get everything they need," said Reed.

      Scrapping isn't all about getting your hands dirty. Computers play a major role in the process. With tens of thousands of parts coming and going, computers make sure that inventories are managed efficiently. An accurate inventory is extremely important, and it takes a good eye for detail.

      "If I don't inventory it correctly, then we're going to tell a customer that may be coming from miles away or out of town that we have a part for them...we pull it off the shelf, and it's not the right part," said inventory specialist Sarah Green.

      The Superior Auto Parts inventory is used in a massive network with other salvage yards nationwide called the Hollander Interchange. It mutually benefits competing salvage yards by making sure their customers can get what they need.

      "I'm hooked to 4000 yards coast-to-coast. If we don't have it, I can find it," Grill said.

      A driver may have to say goodbye to a totaled vehicle, but salvage yard operators like Grill welcome their newest shipment of parts with open arms.