A long-time fixture of Kokomo is closing after providing salvage services and automotive parts to the community for decades.
Warren’s Auto Salvage, owned by Warren Pearce, is closing after Pearce decided it’s time to retire. For the past nearly 50 years, Pearce has salvaged cars and sold parts to Kokomo. As he prepares to close the shop, located at 1105 Home Ave., Pearce will begin selling and scrapping his inventory.
“It’s time,” Pearce said. “Let’s face it. I don’t have as many tomorrows as I did yesterday. I basically dedicated my life to basically public service, and it’s time for me to do some of the things my wife wants to do and see the things she wants to see because she’s made the sacrifices also.”
Pearce’s foray into the auto industry began in Detroit when he was 11 years old when he started working at Hank’s Texaco sweeping floors for $5 a week. After working a variety of jobs and coming to Kokomo, he started at Erik’s Chevrolet where he stayed for a year. After that, he started his salvage business on East Morgan Street and South Ohio Street, before settling at his current location.
From the outset, Pearce had a goal to make his services affordable for all.
“Our main focus in this industry is that we provide something that’s affordable,” Pearce said. “We save people a lot of money so that they can keep their vehicles running, and they can provide for their families too. Not everybody is wealthy, and we try to meet the whole spectrum, the people that are less fortunate than us and the people that are more fortunate than us. But to provide for the less fortunate, to keep them on the road, to maybe take their kids to the doctor, that’s important.
“And they only may be able to do it through a recycled piece of merchandise. It doesn’t make it a bad piece of merchandise; it’s just not as expensive. I would like to think that, well I know, that we’ve helped several families over the years. And the only reason we could do that was because the people here supported us. I always tried to pay it forward in some way shape or form. I don’t expect anything from it. I didn’t do it for an ego trip. I did it because I wanted to do it.”
The decision to retire was not an easy one, Pearce said, but after weighing the pros and cons “honestly” and talking to other businesses in the salvage industry, he decided that it was time. Running into issues with a changing auto industry, Pearce said, was one of the main reasons.
Post-retirement, Pearce said he looked forward to still being involved in the community, likely through charity work of some kind, as he said he can’t see himself “not being involved or something.” The old adage, “when one door closes, another opens,” particularly rang true for Pearce.
Despite retirement and the closing of the business, Pearce said he was grateful to the people in the community who he has served over the years.
“The most important part of my career overall, regardless of the businesses that I’ve owned, is the people,” Pearce said. “I’m so thankful to the people of Howard County and the city of Kokomo in the way that they’ve been loyal to me over the years. I’m working with third-generation families now, and that’s pretty gratifying from my standpoint. And you can’t put a price tag on that. It’s just humbling that people have trust and confidence in us that long and continue to.”