Show Dino Behler a Corvette and his eyes will light up. The automotive recycler has been passionate about them since he was young.
"When I was a teenager, I would do odd jobs to buy Corvette parts," said Behler. "I couldnít afford a car but I thought I could maybe build one from the parts. After the parts started piling up, my parents gave me the money to buy a wreck. I didnít even have my driverís license yet."
Pursuing A Dream
Behler went to college for just about six months before his dad told him heíd found his calling. "I was rebuilding one car a month and giving my dad the money," remembered Behler. "After I had given him about $50,000, my dad said he didnít think I needed college. So I started my own shop."
It was smooth sailing in those early years. From about age 18 to 20, Behler worked on cars.
Then came the catastrophic fire that shut Behler down.
He briefly switched gears in 1994 and spent about a year selling telecommunications services. At the time, Behler didnít know a thing about computers, but he invested his time and learned. He saw the early potential of the Internet and invested in a domain name for a web site - CorvetteSalvage.com. And he also started brokering Corvette parts from his apartment.
More Profits From Parts
"It wasnít long before I discovered that selling parts was more profitable than fixing up a car," he said. "I bought my first wrecked Corvette that I wasnít going to fix, put it under a car cover and started pulling parts. A $2,000 car would yield about $8,000 in parts."
As Behler acquired more cars, he invested in a building right by the New Orleans International Airport. He didnít even turn on the electricity. He just came by and pulled parts off the cars.
"Eventually I was shipping too many boxes so I turned on the electricity and set up as a business," he said. "We outgrew the building in 2002 and I bought 10 acres of property in Mississippi, about 55 miles away."
Today, the business ships all over the world, with UPS, truck freight and
international shipping. Dinoís Corvette also owns one truck which is used for making local deliveries.
At last count, Behler had about 400 Corvettes on hand. About 80 percent of his customers are retail, including a fair share from the Internet. There is also a 5,000-square-foot showroom with both used and new parts for walk-in customers.
Tell The World
Behler doesnít advertise much. "Having the world wide web at your fingertips is very powerful," he explained. "Weíre usually at the top of the Internet searches."
Then, there are the Corvette show swap meets. "Most other automotive recyclers have to go to the industry conventions," he continued. "Because weíre in a niche business, we have a very specialized customer. We go to where they are."
The customer is always of prime importance to Dinoís Corvette. "Thatís what sets us apart," said Behler. "For example, we have a 30-day warranty on our used parts but Iím not going to hold the customer to that if they call me in 45 days with a problem. Weíve had people call us a year later because they just got around to opening the box. If itís not the right part or if itís not functioning, weíll send them another. I am more concerned with customer retention than a warranty."
As to his own passion for Corvettes, it hasnít diminished over time. "If you could go to work every day and not get paid a check, the question is, would you be at your current job?" questioned Behler. "I would. It is a part of me. And if you truly love what you do, it will show on the other end to your customer."
Years In Business:†13