Brothers revive salvage yard

By: 
AUSTIN LOTT
Star Staff Writer

Two brothers have reopened the only salvage yard this side of Billings.

Logan and Garrett Leidholt opened Northside Auto Dismantlers at 2700 Edgewood St., in Miles City in July of 2016, 10 years after their father and uncle closed Auto Dismantlers.

Doug Leidholt and his brother Daren, father of Logan and Garrett, ran Auto Dismantlers for 20 years, from 1986 to 2006. They closed it and Doug opened a cleaning business while Daren went to work for Burlington Northern railroad. They ran other businesses out of the salvage yard shop, but didn’t do much with the yard or the vehicles that remained.

The younger Leidholts never forgot the yard, but both left Miles City to pursue educations after graduating from high school. Logan went to Montana State University in Bozeman and received a bachelors degree in finance, while Garrett went to Lincoln Tech in Denver and pursued an education in automotive technology.

In 2015, Daren called Garrett and talked to him about possibly reopening the yard.

“It’s been a dream of mine since I was a kid,” Garrett said.

He was still in Denver at the time, but was able to move back to Miles City and began cleaning up the yard and shop in April of 2016.

The approximately 8-acre scrap yard located on the north side of Miles City currently holds nearly 500 vehicles. When the senior Leidholt brothers closed the yard in 2006, they crushed a few hundred cars. At its peak the yard held nearly 1,500 vehicles. Logan said that business has been picking up, so getting a good inventory built back up shouldn’t take too long. They’ve been working to finish cleaning the yard, and get everything organized.

“There’s a lot of snow removal that goes on back here,” Logan said.

The yard is roughly organized, but he said they hope to have different sections for SUVs, pickup trucks and cars.

Ken Minow of K M Repair in Miles City was at the yard recently getting a door panel for a pickup. He said he was impressed with how much cleanup the Leidholt brothers were able to get done. Decades ago Minow had worked for the previous owners, Gerri Kison and Lee Houston, when the yard was called Custer County Auto Dismantlers.

Before then it was local resident and businessman Jack Fiechtner, owner of Jack’s Auto Sales and Jack’s Body Shop, that turned the former horse slaughterhouse into a salvage yard. Fiechtner recalled buying the land from a man named Jack Venn in 1972 or 1973.

“I had Lee [Houston] running the yard for me,” he said.

 

Fiechtner sold it to Houston in the early 1980s, who would go on to sell the yard to Doug Leidholt in May of 1986. Doug said his brother Daren joined him in 1989 or 1990. They shortened the name to Auto Dismantlers and did a bunch of cleaning, since much of the yard was stacked three and four vehicles high. The brothers employed four to six employees at any given time.

“There aren’t any [salvage yards] this side of Billings,” Fiechtner said. “It’s good to see ‘em open again.”

Northside is also certified to drain the fluids from vehicles that need to be scrapped, which is necessary before a scrapyard would be able to take and scrap a vehicle. 

Logan said the certificate – and the corresponding pile of paperwork – was one of several traditional startup costs associated with a salvage yard they didn’t have to worry about. Daren, who also showed them the ropes, had paid the annual fee to keep the certification active during the years the yard was closed. Logan explained that the certificate typically costs several thousand dollars to obtain.

Though things are going well, Doug said he’s been cautioning his nephews to be careful about their time.

“There are just so many things you have to do that you don’t directly make money on,” he said, explaining that it’s harder to build up an inventory these days because of changes in the automotive industry. At one  time, manufacturers used the same parts for 10-20 years. Now they change every year or two.

But the brothers will persevere.

Logan and Garrett said they’ve put in some long days, but they’re excited to be doing something they love.
 “We’ve been havin’ a blast ever since [we opened],” Garrett said.

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