Bob Joyce had a partially wrecked Harley-Davidson Sportster a dozen years ago and needed cash to get back on the road, so he put the bike up for auction online.

That was the day he started, which now has 150 employees and 90 storage facilities.

Joyce recently sold the company to Iowa-based QCSA Holdings for millions of dollars. The deal makes QCSA the nation's third largest salvage company.

Salvage Direct was the first company to offer auctions of insurance-scrapped cars, trucks, motorcycles and other vehicles on the Internet. "I saw an opportunity to market it a little better," Joyce told GoErie in a 2000 interview.

Joyce was 30 when he started the business. Before that, he worked as an automotive claims specialist for Cleveland-based Progressive Insurance. So he knew the insurance industry's challenge of getting the most money possible out of totaled vehicles.

"You started to hear about eBay," Joyce says. "I thought if we could get the selected items on the Internet with photos you could open it up to wider audience."

Since then, Salvage Direct has done business in more than 40 states and sold more than 300,000 vehicles, including more than 50,000 last year.

Joyce says he’s always had to look for outside funding to grow, and the sale will give it a cash infusion.

"They approached us and said they would love to join us," Joyce says. "We have the same size and we have complementary areas -- they have the Midwest and we have the mid-Atlantic."

The Salvage Direct division and its locations will continue to operate under the Salvage Direct name, Joyce says.

Posted by Holly Wagner