Left, Christopher Ady, general manager, with his father and owner of Ernie’s Auto Parts, Stuart Ady.
Stuart Ady, owner; Christopher Ady, general manager, Ernie’s Auto Parts.
Stuart Ady is dedicated to a clean industry image
By Allison Rogers
When Stuart Ady was in his mid-teens, a local auto wrecking business was left abandoned. He heard rumours of people sneaking in to steal what was left behind, so the curious 14-year-old decided to check it out.
“I walked into the open office and took the Hollander Interchange books; 14-year-old me thought they looked cool. Bibles, as we call them in the recycling industry.
“Little did I know I was learning all about what my future would hold.” A longstanding recycling industry leader and familiar name in Canada’s auto recycling circle, Stuart found his first business endeavours in helping his father, who owned a tow truck. He toyed with his own parts business on the side, selling parts to his peers at school.
Before purchasing the business now known as Ernie’s Used Auto Parts, Stuart took some time to explore other industries and “see what life was about.” Evidently, he found himself drawn back into the recycling business. “I came back and just started collecting all these cars. When my wife asked me if I was going to sell them, I kept saying something along the lines of, ‘No, not yet, I need to have everything organized first.’
“So, we buckled down. I had my kids painting parts, refinishing wheels from very, very young ages.”
It took Stuart and Mary Ann two years to arrange everything to their liking. He was 22 years old when Ernie’s Auto Parts began operating full-time under his leadership.
Ernie’s continues to prioritize cleanliness and quality, using “unique prep processes,” says Stuart. “Everything in our facility is perfect—and we can thank my wife for that. Our shop is deep-cleaned every Friday—that’s all there really is to it. And people know that when they buy a part from Ernie’s, it’s going to be clean and good quality.”
Nestled into a six-acre sliver of the Castlegar, B.C. wilderness, Stuart says visits from animals are quite a normal occurrence. In fact, the morning he spoke with Canadian Auto Recyclers, he and the team were navigating what the average recycler would consider a pretty unique situation. “We brought in a 2022 Subaru yesterday—700 kilometres on it. We come in this morning to find a bear had gotten in and ripped all the seats to shreds. “We see porcupines a lot, too. They’ll go in and eat the seats out. But bears? That’s unusual—because we keep everything clean.” There was a time when customers, too, were just as nosey.
“When the kids were young, my dad and I both had trailers parked on the lot. We had a swimming pool set up for the kids. We were open six days a week, but people knew we spent Sundays in the trailers on the lot.
“You’d hear the knock, followed by ‘Can I get a part? I need an engine.’” Like many recyclers nowadays, Ernie’s Auto Parts’ customers range from close-to-home to international buyers—though most of its dealings are wholesale.
“I’d say it’s about 80 percent wholesale. We have a contract with Global Warranty and supply all of their parts, from Manitoba through Vancouver Island.”
The business has not been immune to recent recycling industry shifts, navigating challenges like changing shipping costs, for one.
“Freight and shipping have changed. You can’t just slap some bubble wrap on a part—it’s intricate. It’s wrapped, crated, wrapped again, crated again and protected before it’s even shipped out.” But, when faced with challenges, Stuart wastes little time in facing them head-on.
“We’ll look at what happened and see what we can do to fix it. Rather than coming down hard on an employee, we’ll hear them out and explore different ways of approaching the issue. Nine times out of ten, we figure out how to navigate the issue with no conflict.
“Like what happened this morning with the bear. Someone left a garbage container open—it happens. We can’t sit here and get mad over it. We must jump on it and solve the problem as best we can.”
Stuart brings his expertise to several industry groups. He’s been part of B-Car since 1988, once served as vice chair, under Neil James and recently joined a committee with B.C.’s crown insurer ICBC, where he serves as a committee member for a two-year term and sits in on quarterly meetings. Finally, Stuart also serves as vice chair under Jim Leburn on the B.C. Auto recyclers Association.
“We talk about the industry; the challenges and how we can change things or move progress along.” He also oversees an environmental council ensuring B.C. recyclers remain up to code.
“I aim to educate other salvage yards about the environment and how to face trends and challenges in our industry.” Stuart and Mary Ann’s own children have worked in the recycling sector. Their oldest daughter Michelle once worked on the parts counter; and they both pass their same leadership and passion to his son, Christopher, who has long graduated from painting parts on the shop floor and works as general manager.
“He came to me after a stint in business school and wanted to sell parts. So, we did that, and his numbers grew; then quadrupled. A few months into it we pulled him off the counter and gave him his own office. “Christopher is just as passionate about this industry. I came in this morning, and he’d already had his meetings with the dismantler and the shipping team. He’s very in tune with what the business needs.”
Evidently, Stuart feels the same way. He says he’s spending the next 12 months focusing on infrastructure, a possible shop expansion and more. “My mandate remains the same: to make sure our certification is the utmost best and that our training and equipment remain top-of-the-line.” Stuart says readers can be sure to hear more about future industry-leading endeavours.
“My motto may as well be, ‘What’s next? What’s next? What’s next?’ I’m very passionate about what I do, but I’m also very serious about it. When I start something, you know I’m going to finish it.”