Buddy’s Crushed Cars, Inc.
Buddy Cogburn • 800-799-2750
A lot of people say that they “grew up in
the business” and will talk about going to
work with dad and being given tasks to do,
but Buddy Cogburn’s story is a little bit
“I was seven years old,” he said, “running
an old manual crusher.”
Cogburn went on to explain that one summer
day, his father had taken him along to a jobsite
to check on the progress. When they got there,
his father realized that a few of the employees
were not in any condition to be working, so
he fired the whole crew on the spot.
With all the workers gone, someone was needed
to run the crusher. “This machine was a MAC
stationary unit that they made mobile,” Cogburn
explained. The operator had to stand up to
run the machine, and at seven years old, Cogburn
was a little undersized for the task. “They
tied a rope around me, so I wouldn’t fall
out,” he said. His father gave him instructions
on how to run the machine, and apparently
he did a good job, since his father kept him
on the job for about a month.
After that, Cogburn really fell in love with
the business, and worked for his father after
school and during the summers. After high
school, he spent a year in college, but came
right back to car crushing.
Cogburn’s father, who started the business
in the late ‘70s, passed away in 2000, and
Buddy, his sister, and their mother took over.
While the three are partners, he noted that
he and his sister tend to make the decisions,
while his mother stands behind whatever they
agree on. That’s not all of the family, however.
Cogburn’s wife “handles the books,” and his
sister’s fiancé is the company dispatcher.
Since 2000, the business has grown. “We kinda
pushed it a little,” Cogburn said. “We wanted
it to get bigger.” The company now owns 22
trucks, has 82 employees, and runs three yards
in Oklahoma, including the original location
in Medill. A fourth location has been purchased
in Kiowa, Oklahoma, and is expected to be
in operation by the first of the year.
Cogburn attributes much of the company’s success
to their customer relations, making it a point
to clean up the yards before they leave. “We
have a lot of steady customers,” he said.
One thing that has changed recently is the
frequency that they return to customer’s sites.
When scrap prices were lower, many salvage
yards would accumulate cars until they had
500 ready to go, but now they are ready to
sell when they have 100 cars on hand. “It
made a dramatic change in the market,” Cogburn
said. “Every yard is not full like it was.”
Cogburn expects the market to stay strong,
but that brings a downside as well. With prices
as high as they are, more people are getting
into the crushing business, so “it will be
hard to stay busy,” he said. “There’s still
plenty of loose scrap, but you have to hustle
it a little bit more to get the material.”
He also said that some of the newcomers in
the car crushing business don’t always understand
their own processing costs, and will pay too
much for material. Cogburn laughed at that
and said, “My father used to say, ‘The public
will educate you if you can afford it.’”
Cogburn said that one of the things he most
enjoys about the business is the public, and
his relationships with other business owners.
He said that some of the owners of the salvage
yards, as well as some competitors, are his
Also, “I enjoy equipment,” he said. “I’m pretty
fascinated with equipment.” Besides doing
car crushing, his company has expanded into
other types of tear-downs, and has worked
at an oil field tank farm and a rock quarry.
“To see something that massive come down is
fascinating,” he said.
The tear-down crew has only been working for
about four months, but already Cogburn sees
it as a positive step in the ongoing growth
of the company. “We took a really small company,
and with some luck and success, we built it
into something on a larger scale,” he said.
“We were part of that – we were the ones that
made the decisions.”
While Cogburn hopes that his children, now
aged 4, 2 and 1, might follow in his footsteps,
he’s pretty sure he won’t be tying them onto
pieces of machinery. “It’s different now than
it was when I was a kid,” he said.