A Little Inspiration from John Wayne

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.

Copart Apple Watch App Launched for Members’ Convenience

Copart is dedicated to making sure that Members have access to the most advanced and up-to-date technologies, and it starts with IT. The IT Department has released the Copart Apple Watch App for its Members.

Through the new App, Copart Members have a new, more convenient and easier way to bid and win vehicles on the go, and always know what is going on the auction block.  Users will be able to receive notifications even if the iPhone is in sleep mode for auctions of interest and outbids. Additionally, users will be able to view bids and Watchlists on the go, quickly change bids and update pre-bids anytime or anywhere, and for a more detailed viewing Members can hand off lots and vehicle lists from the Watch to iPhone.

The IT Department at Copart is innovative, always looking for more efficient and up-to-date ways to Challenge the norm and improve the Member user experience. Copart always strives to provide Members with the best experience every step of the way.

First Impressions Matter

Willis Johnson learned the value of first impressions when he was establishing a partnership with the owner of a cab fleet.  During the time that the owner was still trying to get to know Willis and his company, the owner decided to test the waters by starting off with making a small order.  Even though the order wasn’t as big as Willis had hoped for, it was just big enough to get things going.

Willis filled the order himself and personally delivered it. The owner, impressed that he had taken care of it so quickly, made a bigger order—the big order Willis was hoping for—right away.  When Willis returned to the owner with the bigger order, he approached and saw the owner laughing and joking with two other guys that he didn’t know.  After seeing this, Willis became worried that the deal might have gone sour and that the owner wasn’t going to take all the parts after all.  After climbing out of his truck and stepping up to the men in the lot, the owner turned to Willis and introduced him to the owner of Yellow Cab Company and the owner of Luxor Cabs.  They both wanted parts too.

The professionalism, expediency and great first impression Willis established led him to doing business with two other larger cab companies because the owner of the original deal was so impressed.  Willis writes: “with any deal, you want to treat folks right, like you’d like to be treated. And first impressions matter.”

Sunday Reflection: Early Beginnings

Excerpts from Founder Willis Johnson’s book Junk to Gold.  Johnson describes Copart’s early beginnings with the first yard he purchased in Rancho Cordova.

“I never stopped dreaming big and looking for something better. I wanted more for my family, and I knew the only way to do that was to put fate in my own hands and start my own business.

Also, like my dad, I just couldn’t shake my love of the dismantling business. I took some time off to try to find a wrecking yard to invest in. I knew we had already earned some equity in our house, and my plan was to use that equity to buy a dismantling yard of my own.

I found a little five-acre auto-dismantling yard in Rancho Cordova called Rand’s Auto Wreckers.  The owners were in their sixties and ready to retire, so I asked them if they wanted to sell.  They told me they did. I was very lucky so many people believed in me. Our families were all very close and supportive, and they wanted to help us.

When the deal was done Joyce (my wife) and I stood at all four corners of the yard and dedicated the business to the Lord. It was the beginning of a tradition that would carry out through the rest of our lives.”

Happy Earth Day from Copart!

Copart takes pride in all areas of its business.  We always seek to Act with integrity, Be an owner, Challenge the norm, Get results, and Celebrate our people. This includes our efforts to protect the environment and be sustainable in all parts of the business. Here are two of the many ways Copart takes pride in caring for the Earth:

At Copart yards:

We Challenge the norm and are an industry leader in preserving our natural environment.  We have very strict guidelines for disposal of fluids and other waste, and our company is committed to always Act with integrity and maintain exceptionally clean and organized facilities:

  • In just one year, Copart :
    • Recycled 32.52 tons of material
    • Reduced greenhouse gases by 103 metric tons
    • Saved nearly four thousand gallons of oil.
  • We don’t just rent land to house vehicles. Copart buys the properties we use and takes care of them to get the best results for the company and the best results to protect the environment.

At our Newest CrashedToys location in Dallas:

Since its inception, creation and design, CrashedToys of Dallas has always set out create a multi-use space that can be enjoyed by the entire community and that is sustainable and respectful of the environment.

  • In the 35,000 square foot of indoor and outdoor space, we have used 500 pounds of repurposed wood, 1.5 tons of repurposed steel, and 4 tons of repurposed concrete.
    • Instead of purchasing all new wood and steel for everything, CrashedToys has incorporated these recycled materials into the build and design in order to eliminate waste and be more sustainable.
    • The repurposed concrete that came from projects like old highway bridges has been used as a way to section off VIP parking for motorcycles and serve as a safe and sustainable stage area for the live entertainment featured at CrashedToys events.
  • The venue uses natural light throughout the entire indoor space as well as 6 huge fans to be more energy efficient and eco-friendly.

At Copart, we celebrate the abundance we have here on Earth and always make sure to take care of what we have.  How do you care for the environment and encourage sustainable business practices? Challenge the norm and Be an owner of sustainability and protection of the environment!

Take a look at the beauty of the surrounding environment in one of our videos of an aerial view of our yard in Grand Prairie, TX:


Congratulations to our Service Star Winners

Copart’s Vision is to provide an unmatched experience… every day and everywhere… driven by our people, process and technology. This past week, Copart at Dallas welcomed Service Star Winners who were chosen because of their consistent dedication to go above and beyond their commitment to service, to their Copart family and to Copart’s Mission, Vision and Values. Winners were flown to our world headquarters in Dallas, where they were treated to a first class weekend that included sightseeing around Dallas, a tour of Copart HQ, a dinner with the Senior Leadership team and even a dinner and awards presentation!

We believe that our people are at the core of the Copart experience, and each quarter, we shine a light on employees, who go above and beyond all expectations, by awarding them with the Service Star Award. Our Annual Winners represent the best of the best in the Copart family!

Each winner is handpicked by their fellow employees to be recognized for their great attitude, discipline and willingness to provide high-quality “5-Star” customer service. Service Star winners receive a letter of commendation, a Service Star pin, a gift card and preferred parking at their location. We’re excited to recognize the Service Star Award Winners for 2015:


Jessica Barnhart: “I met Jessica during Special Ops CAT duty in 2014.  Since then she has always been willing to help me with anything and everything she can.  She always goes above and beyond for everyone.  If she doesn’t know the answer, she will find the answer for me!  She’s a great team player and someone to look up to!!” – Kali O’Neal, Coworker

Picture2Jesse Burrell: “Jesse is on the Special Ops CAT team every year and at a drop of a dime when he is called in to report, Jesse does exactly that without hesitation. Jesse has reported to CAT duty more than expected. I am proud of him and his work ethic. Great job, Jesse!” – Jeri Priolo, General Manager

Picture3LaShae Carver: “The GM at Yard 139 was supporting Yardd 78 for a 6 week period. During that time the Office Manager had a planned vacation scheduled. That week, LaShae stepped up and assumed the Office Manager duties, and assisted yard personnel in all facets of the operation. Her selfless attitude and team player mentality make her a major asset.” –Gerry Faries, General Manager

Picture4Jamie Conners: “When I have a question relating to title processing and Florida laws, I can always call Jamie. She not only advises what has to be done to process the title, but she also takes the time to explain why and how to get it accomplished. Jamie goes above and beyond to make sure that you understand the process. Jamie is definitely an asset to Copart!”-Marvin Strong, General Manager

Picture5Anabel De la Mella: “Anabel has been very kind and helpful in the title department.  She is always looking for new ways to assist me and she makes sure we don’t get backed up.  When we are short on employees, she goes above and beyond.  She is a great coworker to have around!” –Heyling Valdez, CSR


Picture6Toni Heble: “Toni came to Yard 205 as part of the Integration team. Toni understood many work-arounds that needed to be implemented. She was always positive and kept morale high. She learned new processes, taught them to a staff of mostly French speakers, and took extra time to make sure they fully understood. She has great leadership skills!” – Kevin Kotnik, Regional Manager

Kent Keeler: “Kent is one of the most dedicated employees I have met during my time with Copart. He has kept the yard running well without service interruptions despite not having a GM for the last few months. He frequently receives compliments from members and adjusters. He is always willing to go above and beyond for all employees in this facility to ensure their needs are met.” –Bryan Allison

Picture7Dee Kesselring: “Dee’s calm and patient manner was a great help to me when my frustration was at an all-time high. She is always willing to help whenever needed. She is an asset to her company, she is an exceptional employee, and is always professional and willing to help when needed!”-Vicky Relador, Buyer

Picture8April Landel: “A customer had a vehicle that caught fire on the side of the interstate. The police/fire department did not tow or impound the vehicle so it ended up staying on the side of the interstate. As soon as I contacted April, she was able to get the vehicle picked up before rush hour hit. My experience with our customer will now go much more smoothly because of her. Great work!”- Unknown, Seller

Picture9Debra Letendre: “State Farm rejected images of salvage docs as unreadable. Deb agreed to take a photo of them with her phone and email them to me! These documents will then be forwarded to the claim, which will then speed up compliance review and move along the sale of salvage. She has a remarkable level of expertise and customer service!”-Marilyn Flinn, Seller

Picture10Vernon Ma: “Vernon is always available to ALL of us at the Allstate/Pembridge Claims Centre.  We never have to wait for any answers or advice that we need! Vernon gives his best on a daily basis. He is always happy, cheery, intelligent and professional. To Vernon: Here’s to the BEST of the Best!!! You are my Superstar!!” – Karen Banks, Seller

Picture11Michelle McClellan: “Shelly is a reliable, helpful and excellent employee!  She is always on time with an answer to every issue that comes up.  Her support is priceless!  I am very glad to do business together with her.  Great job Shelly!”-Ana Isabel Ceballos, SellerAngela McDonald.png

Angela McDonald: “Angela always tries to help and be courteous. She never fails to go above and beyond to meet our walk in customers/buyers needs.” –Eugene Popov, Buyer

Sarah Nguyen.pngSarah Nguyen: “Sarah provides a high level of support to the legal team. I am always impressed with her ability to close out complex projects. I had a litigation that required 1000’s of records relating to CDS vehicles. Sarah completed the task before I was able to give her the instruction to do so!  A project this large would have ordinarily taken a small team a couple of weeks to finish. Sarah delivered in just a few days!”-Aaron Bath, Coworker

Picture14Robert Ramirez: “Robert consistently has the utmost patience and understanding when dealing with customer requests. He is trained as a receiver and is loader-certified, which allows him to be very nimble. He is always moving from project to project to ensure our facility runs smoothly and always goes the extra mile to take care of customers!”- Brian Cagnina, AGM

Picture15Tina Riccardi: “Tina cleared pick up with a shop for the next day while we had the donor on the line concerned that the shop wanted the vehicle out the same day.  The excellent part about it was that Tina not only did this on the spot, but the donor was reassured and consoled.”- Fay @ Kars4Kids, Buyer

Picture16Gretchen Scott: “Gretchen attended a meeting with Allstate to answer their questions. Weeks later, Joel, from the meeting, contacted Gretchen asking to meet again. He had questions and was also coming through Madison on short notice. Originally, Gretchen had a scheduled vacation day, but she drove 40 min to the yard to meet him! Afterwards, she left again to finish her vacation day. This is going above and beyond!” – Julie Gehrke, General Manager

Picture17Heather Sinyard: “I am both Heather’s co-worker and on the Special Ops Team. When I am away, Heather goes above and beyond to make sure that not only all of our work gets done but that no seller’s titles get “left behind.” Heather is amazingly focused and would rather eat ground glass than leave anything incomplete.  She is truly a Service Star!” –Kathy Somerville, Seller

Picture18Dawn Wellman: “Dawn is a valuable resource for us at all times. We can trust that the information she is providing is correct. She is always willing to go out of her way and help out to make sure that we get the correct information and documentation that we need.” – Drew Ardner, Seller

Picture19Morgan Wessman: “Morgan continues to demonstrate the passion, integrity and drive that makes Copart ‘who we are.’ Members frequently call in knowing they will reach Morgan and that she will get their issues attended to regardless of what yard the vehicle was purchased at. She has been instrumental in the successful growth and adaptation of the yard.”– Michael Sprifke, General Manager



Local News Outlets Feature CrashedToys of Dallas

Dallas Morning News Staff Writer Terry Box showcased the new CrashedToys Dallas location just before its opening this past Saturday and invited readers out for the April 9 event.

The CW’s 33 Eye Opener morning show covered all of CrashedToys of Dallas’s exciting opportunities and interviewed General Manager Trey Cluck on what CrashedToys has to offer the whole Dallas community!

Read more from the Dallas Morning News and watch the video from The CW here:




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“Embrace Adventure and Learn from Second Chances.”

Excerpts from Founder Willis Johnson’s book Junk to Gold that highlight Copart’s Mission, Vision and Values.

As a child Johnson developed a sense of adventure after moving to Northern California. He often explored and ventured out with his friends on the weekends and during the summer. Johnson writes that after a scare from being a little too adventurous on Lake Folsom with inner tubes, Johnson, not knowing how to swim, could have drowned.


After being rescued, he was determined to learn how to swim. Through this lesson, Johnson urges that we should, “embrace adventure and learn from second chances.” He explains, “If you’re given a second chance, you should learn from it.”


Like anything we do, whether we mess up or fall, never give up. Don’t be afraid to explore, venture out and keep moving forward.  You never know what lessons you can learn from stepping out of your comfort zone and into an adventure.

Training for Law Enforcement and Fire Fighters at Copart Yards

Law enforcement and fire agencies across the country find great success in partnering with Copart. The locations are the perfect setting to train both their employees and their K-9s in tactical operations.  Yard 78 in Martinez, California, Yard 148 in Homestead, Florida, and Yard 106 in Helena, Montana recently hosted law enforcement as a part of Copart’s continued commitment to support local communities.

Yard 148 regularly invites U.S. Marshals as well as agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives to train their K-9s in finding explosives in and around different vehicles.  In the picture below of Yard 148, from left to right, is AGM Kevin Arroyave, CSR Junett Sanchez, CSR Daisy Sanchez, Loader Operator Wilfredo Perez (kneeling down), GM Michael Santos, Dispatcher Joshua Vasquez, and K-9s Almond and Esis.

Yard 148 ATF_US Marshal Training Session_030816

Helena Police Department described Copart as the “ideal training facility for dogs”.  The Department used Yard 106 to train their K-9s to search vehicles and RVs for drugs and explosives.  In addition K-9 units from across Montana have been invited to hold their annual competition at the Helena, Montana location.

Below are Officers Jon Kalczyk and Josh Ray in Yard 106.

Yard 106

Yard 78 in Martinez, California hosted both the Contra Costa Fire Department as well as the California Rescue Dog Association (CARDA) for training and practice. “We love our community,” urges Copart GM Kelly Steele. “Getting involved engages our employees and most importantly helps establish positive and supportive relationships within our city.”  Contra Costa Fire Department used the yard over the weekend to reenact an accident and practice using the Jaws of Life to rescue a Rescue Mannequin.  CARDA brought their search and rescue dogs to train in the yard.

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Copart’s Director of Security David Scaff explains, “Copart’s yards offer a unique landscape of varying car types and terrains that prove important in practicing operations. We are proud to offer our locations to both local, state and federal law enforcement as a safe and secure environment so that they can be properly trained and ready for anything they may encounter in the future.”

Click here to learn more about how Copart works with local law enforcement agencies and fire departments.

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