Ken and Jinx Spangler planned to be enjoying their golden years right now.
Instead, the Rifle couple resumed operating the family's longtime salvage yard, Spangler's Auto Salvage, on U.S. Highway 6, east of Rifle, in December. They had sold the business to Terry Walton and Miranda Watson, a father-daughter from Carbondale, in April 2007, after operating the salvage yard for 30 years.
They sold it for personal health reasons, Jinx Spangler said, but when Walton and Watson didn't keep up with their payments to the Spanglers, they repossessed the business at the end of last year.
What they got back, though, was not anything close to what they sold, the couple said.
"Their idea of a salvage yard is different than the one we have," Jinx Spangler said while sitting behind the counter at the business on Monday.
Walton and Watson - who changed the name of the business to CARS, Creative Auto Recyclers and Salvage - "crushed everything" and shipped it to Denver, while metal prices were high, Jinx Spangler said.
"When we left them the business, metal was close to $200 a ton, then it went up to $360 a ton," Jinx Spangler said. "Now it's come back down again."
"We couldn't believe it when we saw what they had done," she added. "They had crushed so many old cars and trucks, appliances, there wasn't anything left."
While Spangler's still has rows of old automobiles and piles of appliances and equipment, the inventory is much lower than in years past, Ken Spangler said.
The Spanglers hope to build inventory back up, perhaps not quite as large, Ken Spangler said. But it will take years.
"We think a community needs a salvage yard," Jinx Spangler said. "People come to us for parts and such and that's important."
The couple's only help are their son, Ryan, and grandson, Glenn.
"It's been great having them help, because I'm not able to get around like I did when I was 40," Ken Spangler said while watching the two younger men work in the yard. "I thought we'd be doing the retirement things by now, traveling and enjoying what we worked so hard for for 30 years. But we're back here."
The previous owners also did not maintain the heavy equipment in the yard, Ken Spangler said, such as the bailer, which they didn't get working again until last Sunday. The machine crushes metal into squares so they can be more easily loaded onto semis for transport to recycling facilities, Ken Spangler said.
"We made two mistakes," he added. "We sold the business and we financed it with the wrong people. But I don't want to say anything bad about them. They just had a completely different idea of what a salvage yard should be."
Since the couple resumed operating the salvage yard, the response has been very positive, Ken Spangler added.
"Lots of people have said they're glad we're back," he said.
After having the same phone number for 30 years, the Spanglers could not get that number back when they resumed operations. They've been advertising that fact and remain optimistic they can get their business back on its feet.
"We just want to get a salvage yard, a real salvage yard, going again," said Jinx Spangler.