Eagle River is a major destination area in the Northern Wisconsin, but that means any businesses that aren't based around tourism have to strategize to be successful. One auto salvage yard there is not only thriving, but it's also getting recognized around the world for something fairly unique.
Don Scharf Automotive has the largest selection of dismantled Dodge Vipers in the country. There's really only one other U.S. competitor and they're based in Missouri.
"Basically, anything on a Viper we will sell," said Viper Specialist Todd Mohr.
Don Scharf started the business as a simple scrap yard back in 1976. His son Paul then took over in 1997, just two years after he purchased his first Viper wreck.
"We've bought and parted out over 200 vipers since 1995. That was when we bought our first wreck," said Paul Scharf. "It came out of Chicago."
They dedicate between a quarter to half of their warehouse strictly to Viper parts. Scharf said their specialization is what separates the company in this tourism-driven area.
"We've always done very well with niche vehicles," he said, "because we are in Northern Wisconsin and because we don't have much of a population base, buying just the average car doesn't work well for us."
Viper enthusiasts will travel quite far to get to fuel their passion for the cars and they'll pay a pretty penny for the parts too.
"I had a customer drive up a couple months ago from Ohio because he had a couple Vipers he was fining," said Mohr. "It was a major purchase. He spent $23,000 that day."
Thanks to the internet, this company can reach even more Viper junkies.
"Through the internet we ship viper parts all over the world," said Mohr "We have a lot of customers in Canada, England, Middle East, Eastern Europe, Mexico, South America."
The company is so well known that no matter where in the world a Viper gets totaled, the owners will call Scharf.
"They get wrecked and come over here," he said. "Because of the referral system and my reputation, they will get sent to me usually."
He's even seen parts cycle back to him.
"We've sold parts to people and bought wrecks and brought the wrecks in and have seen our own parts on them. We see our own stock numbers on the parts," he said.
So, what started as a way to stay in the beautiful Eagle River area has turned into a world renown business.
"In this are sometimes we have to think outside of the box," said Scharf.
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