Nampa—On Highway 20-26 outside of Nampa it is hard to miss the upside-down green John Deere tractor rising 20 feet above a field of junked tractors.
It’s equally hard resisting the lure of 6 acres of old tractor parts. For Treasure Valley farmers Northwest Industrial Machine is a welcome landmark especially if you need parts for that old ’48 Ford or the ’63 International tractor.
In January of 2016 a group of young interpreters bought the tractor wonderland, lock, stock and crankshaft and the business is taking off.
“We cleaned up the front office and started inventorying parts and putting them online. We have an online website and buyers can go there and shop. We’re tied into eBay or people can buy from our website. We got new and used tractor parts and we’re tied to all the distributors as well as all the new parts we bring in and sell,” said Russell Fricke.
Northwest Industrial has a team of workers that work day in and day out breaking down tractors, logging part numbers, photographing parts and putting them online. After a year and a half, they’ve only scratched the surface of this tractor-part goldmine.
“We got stuff all the way back from the two-cylinder tractors to the late 90 models in the yard. We’re on the look out for tractors to buy and there is a lot out there from this area. The demand is there and we know when we buy a tractor and we can make a quick turn on it,” said Matt Moser.
The partners knew they were onto something when they bought the yard. Online auto-part websites for collector cars, airplanes and farm equipment have taken off and internet sales with easy shipping has brought new life to junkyards across the nation.
“What we’re doing now is simple, selling hard to find parts and buying tractors then tearing them down. We completely dismantle those tractors and put it on the internet and thats our online inventory,” said Moser.
In just a year and a half, with just word of mouth and Google searches, on-line receipts account for 50-percent of the business.
“But it is increasing every single month, we expect online sales to be 80-90 percent in a year or two. We have 6 acres here and thats a lot of stuff we don't have on the shelves yet. We still have 30-thousand square feet of buildings that we’re going through. Those parts have been here for 30 years, add the junk yard and we have a lot of inventory. We’re rotating that inventory with newer stuff so we can take care of hobbyists and also service farmers that need parts today,” said Moser.
Northwest Industrial has 16 employees right now and it is a mix of new age part pullers, inventory clerks and online, eBay marketers, all with infectious enthusiasm.
“We have an eBay manager that has 3 employees that do the listings, we have people that just organize the parts and we have 4 shop guys. There’s also a guy that does just the billing and all the aftermarket stuff like warranties,” said Fricke.
Russell Fricke says the company offers an affordable farm machinery alternative for big and small operations.
“We sell reconditioned lawn mowers, swathers, combines and the tractors. We buy them, inspect them and put warranties on the reconditioned machinery. The machinery has everything new from the engines and rebuilt transmissions and even new front-end loaders on them. They have new wheels and tires, the 4-wheel drives have all been rebuilt. We have everything from 18 horsepower to 52 hp in the restored line and the best thing for our buyers is that we have all the parts for the rebuilt equipment. We sell our cheapest tractors for about $9800 up to $16,500 on the restored line and we got quite a selection,” said Fricke.
Northwest Industrial is easily found on a Google search. In the old days the yard was visited by desperate Canyon County farmers in search of a rare machinery part. Now Northwest also deals with African, Asian and European farmers looking for parts.
“When you use online marketing almost immediately you have a voice in the international market. So you go from selling things here in the Treasure Valley to being able to sell parts in Russia. The potential is limitless and the challenge of it is being able to reach worldwide buyers while at the same time marketing ourselves as the best retail option out there,” said marketing director Chris Christofi.
From an obscure junkyard on Highway 20/26 to the information highway, its breathed new life into the operation and another thriving business in Canyon County.
“We took the business to the world, We just shipped a starter this morning to England. Last week we sent some stuff to Eastern Europe. Lately we’ve been sending lot of our engines to upstate New York. Theres a lot of farming that goes on there and they’re using older, smaller tractors on small farming operations and if we can get it in a container we can ship it out,” said Christofi.
Christofi says Customer ratings and feedback can make or break an internet businesses in todays business world.
“One of the things we are really proud of is that our internet business has 100-percent positive feedback scores. We strive to keep our customers happy. It is hard at times but we’ve done a good job at keeping that 100 percent happy so far and we have customers that keep coming back. The biggest part of our success has been online word of mouth,” added Chritofi.
Matt Moser admits that at times he has to pinch himself. He says Northwest Industrial is in right place at the right time.
“It’s a great business. I see a lot of potential and we can grow this into a 30 employee business real easy. I think all of those brands we have, and they still have value with collectors and on the farm. This nation made good tractors and we want to keep them alive. Around here John Deere seems to be the favorite but for me its Massey Ferguson but I love them all because they were built to last,” said Moser.