Willis Johnson tells the story of the first location that began the Copart history.
After signing the paperwork of our first location, it was time to get to work. Curtis and I changed the name to Mather Auto Dismantlers after the nearby Air Force base. It was truly a junkyard, at least at the beginning. I was twenty-six, and I had big plans for that little yard.
At first, when I didn’t have a lot of money, I relied on the scrap iron to make ends meet. As the business grew, I hoped to be able to buy better cars and build up the parts side of the business.
I used an old portable building on the property as an office. I used a Quonset hut also on the property to cut up the cars. After seeing a John Wayne Movie about World War II when he kicked down the doors of a Quonset, it made me think of my own Quonset hut in a new light.
I thought, “Well, if they can make it look decent in the movie, decorate it all up for officers, maybe I can do that.”
I started moving all the leftover junk out of the hut. Then, I bought new paneling to screw into the walls to make it look more like a permanent structure, poured a new concrete slab and then installed a new door. In two weeks we had a bigger, better Mather store—and it was all thanks to John Wayne!
We lived on a budget, and if we didn’t have the money, we just didn’t have the money and wouldn’t do it. We lived to get the business going. Mather proved to be the mother business for many successful businesses to come.