A Billion Dollars from a Junkyard

On a sprawling 97-acre lot beside railway tracks and auto repair shops in a section of eastern Long Island that’s definitely not the Hamptons, forklifts maneuver through a neatly organized salvage yard, moving everything from weathered pickup trucks to an almost-new Lotus coupe. This is no ordinary junkyard. Everything is coordinated electronically: The forklift drivers follow a meticulous schedule laid out on a tablet. Each car, be it a lightly battered BMW or a totaled Toyota, has a numerical code on the windshield so it can be digitally identified, inventoried and then moved to its corresponding spot in the sales area. In the squat, one-story building out front, customers who bought a vehicle online wait to pick up their newly purchased wreck after scanning a QR code on their phones.

The well-oiled routine is mirrored at 243 Copart-owned junkyards across the U.S. and around the world. The publicly traded, Dallas-based firm dominates the market for processing and reselling salvage cars — vehicles damaged enough to be written off as a total loss by auto insurers as well as discarded cars still in decent condition. Copart gets paid, mostly by insurance companies but also by rental car companies, car dealerships and individuals, to take the vehicles off their hands. It then auctions them off on the Internet…

Keep reading this article at forbes.com