By Kristen Lipscombe
It’s a special kind of business that can keep motoring successfully for six decades. And Covey’s Auto Recyclers, Ltd., is exactly that. It also takes special types of people to ensure those companies run smoothly. In the case of this thriving business based in Blandford, N.S., current president Derek Covey is the man behind the wheel.
Derek, now 53, started working at his family’s auto recycling company part-time at the tender age of eight, learning the tools and tricks of the trade from his father, Hale Covey, who proudly opened the doors to his then-brand new auto recycling shop in 1960. “He had an interest in vehicles and he was in XXX service for five years, and travelling back and forth from home, he had actually wrote-off a couple of vehicles,” Derek said with a chuckle. “They (the cars) were sitting … and people wanted parts off of them,” he said, “and that’s how it all began and it just snowballed from here.”
“He saw that there was a market and went with it,” Derek said with another light chuckle, the memories of his father and what he learned from him both inside and outside of work still kept close to his heart. Sadly, Covey’s visionary and founder passed away 20 years ago. Fortunately, Hale’s business acumen, industry knowledge, and the skills needed to keep the business in racing condition for decades has been carefully passed down to the next generation.
Derek continued to work part-time at his father’s business until he was 20, but like most young people, he wanted to spread his wings a bit, so he successfully applied to Acadia University in Wolfville, N.S. “When I left high school, I wasn’t sure what my plans were, so I decided to take a business degree, thinking that if I come back to the business, it would be beneficial and it definitely was,” Derek said. “I’ve brought a lot of what I learned (to Covey’s Auto Recyclers).”
Derek also spent a year out west working for another auto recycling company in Vancouver, B.C. “To be honest, I followed a girl,” he said with yet another friendly chuckle and while that young relationship didn’t work out, what did work out was being able able to take some lessons learned from the west coast business back to his family’s east coast business.
“I like the business and I saw the potential,” Derek said of landing back home. “And I enjoyed working with my father. It was just a good fit.” As much as Derek loves his work, his first job is that of single dad to 11-year-old Max and nine-year-old Dex, who now live with him in the very same home where he grew up in Blandford, which is about halfway between Bridgewater and Halifax, the town and city that represent Covey’s largest chunk of the auto recycling market.
The youngest Coveys love the family business and “want to get right in there,” but Derek also likes to ensure they find other passions to pursue. “I try to keep them somewhat at a distance; they’re busy with other things, like sports.” Those include hockey, speedskating, taekwondo, soccer; “a little bit of everything.”
Back to business, Derek is very proud of the strong values Covey’s Auto Recyclers abides by each and every day, with ensuring customers are well taken care at the top of that list. Covey’s customers range from “any automotive-related business,” such as body shops and mechanical repair shops to members of the public in search of specific parts. “The bulk of our business is we deliver and ship our parts,” with two delivery trucks on the road to Bridgewater and Halifax daily and 10 employees, including Derek, dedicated to getting parts to where they need to be effectively and efficiently.
“We try to cater to our customers as best we can, we stand behind our product – we have a great warranty,” Derek said. “We try to bend over backwards for our customers; they’re ultimately the ones that keep us alive.” As for how Covey’s is celebrating its 60th anniversary, “we’ve had to celebrate in-house this Year, which is unfortunate, as we would have liked to share this milestone with friends, family, customers and business associates.
We have some long standing relationships.” “It’s nice; there’s not a lot of businesses that have been around this long, so you know you’re doing the right thing to stay around,” Derek said of what it feels like for Covey’s to reach the big 6-0 in 2020. Perhaps that chance will come post-pandemic but in the meantime it’s business as usual for the essential work that goes on at Covey’s Auto Recyclers. “(We) definitely help the local economy, and quite a few people,” he added, “so it’s a good feeling.” Check out Covey’s Auto Recyclers online at www.coveys.com. “It’s nice; there’s not a lot of businesses that have been around this long, so you know you’re doing the right thing to stay around,” Derek said of what it feels like for Covey’s to reach the big 6-0 in 2020. “And it definitely helps the local economy, and quite a few people,” he added, “so it’s a good feeling.”