Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Copart picks up salvage lot in Ohio

By Matthew Bunk

FAIRFIELD - Auto salvager Copart Inc. acquired its 108th salvage lot, a 16-acre facility in Strongsville, Ohio, the company announced Tuesday. Fairfield-based Copart has picked up dozens of lots in the past several years while the company's profits have surged to all-time highs. But the Strongsville facility, which will give the company a greater presence in the Cleveland area, is the first auto salvage lot acquisition of 2005. Last year, the company topped $400 million in sales with the help of online auto auction technology that eliminated the inconvenience of live auctions and juiced competition in bidding.

Copart is now pursuing ways to extend its second-generation Internet technology to industries other than used car sales. Rather than sit back on pre-tax profit growth ranging from 35 percent to 32 percent annually, the 23-year-old company continues to branch out. And national media has taken note. Forbes' columnist Richard Pathon called Copart the Sotheby's of Scrap in a Jan. 11 magazine article, noting that Copart has adapted the Internet to "the clunky business of auctioning wrecked cars, with results even crusty old Henry Ford would applaud."

Instead of going to live auctions, buyers can bid online in real time at all of the company's auto lots. And, as an effective middleman, Copart makes money from buyers who pay handling fees and from sellers - mostly insurance companies - in the form of a flat fee or commission.

Reach Matthew Bunk at 425-4646 Ext. 267 or

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