JUNK TO GOLD by Willis Johnson

JUNK TO GOLD

From Salvage to the World’s Largest Online Auto Auction
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KIRKUS REVIEW

A fast-acting entrepreneur with a positive attitude, good gut instincts and endless energy relates how he made money on junked autos in thisdebut memoir.

In 1972, Vietnam veteran Johnson started his business with nothing but a 5-acre auto dismantling yard east of Sacramento. But he relentlessly expanded and innovated, eventually founding Copart, an international online auto auction, and taking it public. This is no mean achievement for a man from very humble beginnings. His first teacher was his father, who knew his way around the auto-wrecking trade and could spot good deals—even if he had to learn about them by listening to his wife read aloud from the local newspaper’s classified section. In this memoir, the son, now in retirement, tells a classic story of second-generation success, although he leaves the actual writing to his former Copart communications director, debut author and former journalist Pugh. Her professionally rendered account of Johnson’s steady, upward climb makes for engaging reading; it even includes chapter subheadings with motivational messages to good effect. However, Johnson’s unalloyed first-person voice is lost, and Pugh isn’t given to critical appraisal. Johnson is shown as trustworthy, decisive and God-fearing, putting family first but working himself to the bone, and all in all, he emerges as a man with something extra. But the narrative goes only as far as Johnson wants to take it, and the focus softens during rougher patches or when exploring the interstices of his little-understood industry. For example, the book laments the devastation and flooding in New Orleans and on the Gulf Coast caused by Hurricane Katrina in 2005, as a prelude to disclosing that its aftermath was a bonanza for auto salvagers. However, it doesn’t detail how these swamped vehicles worked their way through salvaging, leaving readers unenlightened about the afterlife of water-damaged auto parts.

A memoir full of entrepreneurial spirit that may be inspirational to readers trying to make it in business on their own.

Pub Date: March 15th, 2014
ISBN: 978-1490816593
Page count: 192pp
Publisher: Westbow Press
Program: Kirkus Indie
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