A Closer Look E-mail the author

Gentry & Associates
Beth Gentry • 770-253-5770

—Beth and Oliver Gentry
Gentry & Associates went into business on January 1, 2001, but it had been in the planning stages for much longer than that. “It was my husband’s dream since he was 11 years old,” Beth Gentry said.

Oliver Gentry’s father owned a car dealership, but young Oliver was much more interested in the junkyards he and his father went to on weekends, looking for used car parts. “He always talked about it,” Beth said.

Oliver’s father recognized his son’s interest, and bought a piece of property and got a business license for a junkyard when Oliver was just 11 years old. He even kept a few old cars on the property, “so no one could say it wasn’t operating.” Beth said, “I think deep down, it was something that his dad wanted to do as well.”

Before they started the business, Beth had been in the travel business and Oliver had an automotive business that sold new tires and repaired cars. But cars weren’t completely foreign to Beth. “My family was in the trucking industry and raced cars, so I was around that.” While the junkyard was her husband’s dream, she said that she was also intrigued by the idea. “It is definitely a challenge,” she said. “This is a fast-paced business.”

Since the property was ready and the business license was in place, it was just a matter of getting all the other paperwork set up for the new business. Oliver “just walked out of one place and into another,” Beth said.

When the business opened, the Gentrys bought 50 used cars. “We hauled them here one at a time, on trailers,” Beth said. “We were just doing auto parts.” It wasn’t long before they bought a car crusher, because it was becoming complicated arranging for outside service on the schedule they needed.

Then, Beth explained, “My husband said, ‘we need to buy scales,’ and then we thought, ‘we might as well take scrap in.’” The Gentry’s started buying scrap from the public just before the boom hit, and they were amazed at how much was coming in. “You couldn’t even get in the drive. We had to hire a bunch of people.”

While the boom didn’t last, Beth said that the parts business has stayed strong all along. Besides selling used car parts, they also sell new parts and used tires, and install parts for customers. Working along with her husband is “pretty cool,” Beth said. “We make a pretty good team. We really enjoy it.”

The challenge, she said, is to “keep everything moving – when to move it and when not to.” They need to keep enough inventory on hand to have parts to sell, but even with 17 acres, they need to move cars out to make room for what is coming in. “That’s why we bought the crusher – to keep it moving.”

Beth gave a lot of credit to Oliver’s father for buying the property and getting the business license so long ago. “It’s so hard to get a salvage license now,” she said. “He laid the groundwork, and we appreciate it. We jumped in and hit the ground running.” The Gentry’s have since purchased the property from Oliver’s father.

“We took a big chance, and it worked out,” Beth said. “We’ve been at the right place at the right time more than once. The bottom fell out [of the travel industry] six months after I sold out.”

Beth said that the company’s location on the south side of Atlanta seems to be ideal for customers bringing in cars and other scrap. Wreckers also bring in cars, and “we buy some from auction, but we don’t have to buy a lot.”

Meanwhile, the goal is to “maximize the use of what comes in.” With eight employees, cars are dismantled when a part is needed, but “when they take one piece out, they take it all apart. We pick a car apart piece by piece; we try to sell every piece of it.”

As far as the future, Beth said, “Eventually, we would like to have a shredder.” Since there are other shredders in the area, it’s not a critical improvement, but one that Oliver would like to implement. “That’s what he has in the back of his head, and he’s hard to stop sometimes.”