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Netherlands-based family auto recycling company focused on the future

Owner of a Netherlands-based auto recycling company, specializing in dismantling, overhauling and selling used and new car parts, Autobedrijf Brooks, talks to Dutch car recycling organisation, ARN, about his auto recycling company and his focus on its future.


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Rene Broekhuis

Thirty years ago, Rene Broekhuis started repairing and selling cars. What started at his uncle’s farm has grown into a universal garage company with customers all over the world. The company combines various activities, including repair, overhaul and sale of cars, car dismantling and specialized maintenance of trucks.

“I started my own business when I was twenty. After working at a Fiat garage as a sixteen-year-old and tinkering with tanks for the army, I thought I knew more or less all facets of tinkering with vehicles”, Broekhuis begins to say. “I started my business on my uncle’s farm and have been granted an environmental permit. In the mid-1990s, ARN started paying for the dismantling of end-of-life vehicles. I seized this opportunity with both hands to expand my business with car dismantling activities. I bought land on a small industrial estate in Geesteren and started car dismantling end-of-life cars. The cooperation with ARN is good. Over the years, I’ve really only been positive about this.

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Overhaul of broken parts

“We started at the end of the nineties with three employees. We now have ten employees, and we perform 2,500 MOTs per year. That’s fifty a week! What I like most is that I can make something that no one else can fix.” As an example, he shows the special overhaul workshop with machines for flattening cylinder heads and installations for repairing gearboxes and injectors. “We succeed in repairing a broken cylinder head in such a way that it no longer tears. We are known for that”, says Broekhuis proudly. “In this way, we extend the life of cars before they are eventually scrapped.”

60,000 parts

“We no longer have any cars in stock for sale,” Broekhuis continues. “We only go after a specific car at the request of customers. We also no longer actively search for car wrecks. We used to disassemble perhaps two thousand end-of-life vehicles per year, now that number is five hundred. Instead, we focus on younger vehicles, for example, with the purchase of German cars and through the platform of insurers. We use these cars for the parts, and our company has about 60,000 units in stock,” he says enthusiastically. These parts are sold with a guarantee: the company is KZD (Quality Care Disassembly) level 3 certified, the highest level. “In 2004, our warehouse and workshop were expanded. We are a universal car company. All brands are welcome with us, because why make it difficult for yourself by specializing? The Netherlands is much too small to make you dependent on one particular brand.”

The right feeling

“For us, ‘de Onderdelenlijn’ is an extremely good way to sell our parts. Our company is affiliated with Autonet for this purpose, which means that we have a great deal of data about the parts that have been sold from a particular wreck, the lead time and the sales price. This provides valuable insights. At the same time, the right feeling when purchasing cars is necessary. Previous experiences with similar cars largely determine the price for which I want to buy a car. In the current market, you see prices rising. If the economic situation deteriorates a bit, this will have direct consequences for trade.”

Risk spreading

The company is a general partnership (vof) with Broekhuis, his wife and two sons as partners. “To keep the family business healthy in the future, I think it is important to spread the risks. For that reason, we have consciously chosen to do various activities in the company. In addition to selling parts, repairs and overhauls for cars, we have also been doing maintenance, repairs and overhauls on trucks since 2012. We have had a separate workshop built for this. Two mechanics are working full-time, and we can no longer do any extra work in the workshop, it is that busy. Trucks from about four years old come to us for maintenance, overhaul of parts or for the replacement of a complete engine or gearbox. We remove these from a comparable truck and install them in the customer’s truck. In this way, we give the truck, which has a considerable economic value, a second life in the Netherlands.”

A view on the future

“It is important to also look at the longer term. The roof of our company is now full of solar panels. The question is, what do you do with this energy? For me, the ultimate form is to decompose hydrogen and oxygen with my own installation and convert the generated solar energy into hydrogen on which we can run the machines. Hydrogen can be quickly refueled and has more capacity than electricity. So far, we have only dismantled one electric car. I do not expect this to increase quickly, but I am very interested in all new developments associated with the dismantling of propulsion batteries. I keep a close eye on developments and am happy to make use of the knowledge that ARN has about this and shares with the affiliated companies,” concludes Broekhuis.

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