Cats Give ’More Bang for the Buck’ at Harry’s U-Pull It

Wed January 14, 2004 - Northeast Edition

It takes a lot of work to keep a junk yard in order. And in the case of Harry’s U-Pull It Auto Parts, in Hazleton, PA, it also takes some powerful iron.

Founded in the early 1920s, Harry’s is a self-service auto salvage facility (also known as a junk yard). There, visitors can locate car parts at what the company calls, “very attractive prices because ’U’ do the work.”

According to Larry Babula, general manager and 49-year employee of Harry’s, the company — at any give time — has approximately 3,000 cars and trucks waiting to be salvaged from its three locations in Hazleton, Allentown and Pennsburg — all covering more than 110 acres. Most of Harry’s cars and trucks range from the early 1980s to the early 1990s, but Babula said it’s not out of the question to find mid- to late-1990 vehicles.

Business in the scrap industry is almost always brisk and, recently, Babula began looking at ways to help the company be more productive, which basically involves crushing and moving cars and trucks more quickly around the yard.

“When you have three locations like we do and you have hundreds of acres to deal with, it’s not easy to keep things neat and in order,” admitted Babula. “The first front-end loader was getting pretty old, but we never really considered getting a newer machine because we thought it just couldn’t pay for itself. But when I began talking to Cleveland Brothers, I became convinced that Cat wheel loaders could help us do our job much better and that they’d ultimately pay off for us.”

Babula purchased two 938Gs — one in 1998 and the other in 2002 — and the company employs myriad attachments on these, such as plows, buckets, and forks, straight booms and a manhole lifter.

“Cleveland Brothers spec’d out these machines with ride control and quick couplers, plows and attachments — five per each machine. The extra counter weight to get more capacity has been great and we have bucket scales on the machines,” Babula said.

To say the least, Babula has been happy ever since. “We went from the dark ages to modern times,” he said. “If you could have seen the kinds of equipment I had to drive through the years, you’d be extremely surprised how I ever could get the job done. Cleveland Brothers has really helped us make more money here at Harry’s.”

As with all new equipment, particularly when an operator is accustomed to working with much older models of iron, there’s a learning curve and, according to Babula, Cleveland Brothers was there every step of the way to help him and his company get the most out of their new Cat equipment.

“In 1998, Cleveland Brothers showed us the technical specs that we’d need to help us run these machines properly. We’ve really appreciated their expertise. The engines in these Cats are very powerful,” said Joe Bepsistos, long-time operator for Harry’s. “These machines run forever. I can pick up four crushed cars at once and that’s a lot of tonnage. The machines are stable when they’re in the air and the hydraulics are strong.

“These machines do it all,” Bepsistos continued. “They lift cars in the air to drop the fluid out while holding the car steady. They help us put the cars in the staging area and prepare the vehicle to be completely stripped down of parts. We have machines in the air for hours just to get some parts that we can’t get to. Then we use the machines to crush the cars, which is very profitable for us. You’re talking about 30,000 pounds per load with these 938Gs. That’s pretty powerful.”

Over an average weekend, Harry’s will crush more than 500 cars. That works out to approximately 20,000 cars a year for crushing. But this extraordinary number was not feasible without the Cat wheel loaders. “The volume is amazing,” said Babula, “and Cat helped us get there. We only do this five days a week. I’ve driven all kinds of vehicles to help us get the job done here and Cleveland Brothers has helped us tremendously. With these Cat wheel loaders, we now get much more bang for our buck.”