Mixing it up: One owner, one address, two businesses

March 2013 Posted in Business
Bill Wolford, right,  engages in  a conversation in the midst of barkdust mountains.

Bill Wolford, right, engages in a conversation in the midst of barkdust mountains.

By Dixon Bledsoe 

Sawdust and crew cabs?

Two businesses with completely different products at the exact, same address?

Ask Bill Wolford if he ever envisioned having a bark dust and auto sales business in the same location and he might just shake his head and chuckle.

The Silverton native recently purchased Abiqua Forest Products from Gary Ackerman, slid his auto sales business south about 100 yards, and presto, a new business combination was born.

Actually, there are two separate businesses within walking distance.

Wolford is quick to give credit to the people who make both businesses work – Frank Martin on the “bark”  side of the house and Dennis Totten on the auto/truck side. Both are seasoned pros. Martin has been in the landscaping business for 20-plus years.

“He really knows his stuff. Frank is the kind of person you want to talk to about our products and your yard,” Wolford said.

Totten may be a familiar face to TV viewers. He used to don a Lone Ranger-style mask as the “The Loan Arranger” and sell cars along with loans in Portland. Wolford credits Totten with being the consummate financing pro.

Abiqua Landscape Products
Northwest Truck and 4 x 4

1295 N. First St., Silverton
Open Monday – Friday
9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Saturday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Extended hours in the summer.

“Special finance programs are his gig. If he can’t get you financing, it is going to be hard to find anywhere. Dennis has been in the car, truck and financing business since the 80s and we are glad to have him.”

Gary Ackerman is another crucial resource person to Wolford.

“Gary knows the wood products business inside and out. It is a blessing to have him. When he works on his truck right next to the office and I can just simply lean toward the garage for a question, it is great,” Wolford said.

“Gary is going to know the answer because he ran this business so successfully for years. There were days when 100 people would come in to get bark, sawdust, wood chips, ‘hog fuel,’ soil mix, compost, topsoil, crush rock, round rock, and sand. Our plan is to get back to that again, and Gary is a key consultant in what makes this place tick,” Wolford said.

Ackerman built the business into a successful company and sold it a few years ago. He got it back recently after things didn’t work out with the new owner/manager, and Wolford saw an opportunity.

The new venture is up and running just in time for spring landscaping and the peak demand period.

“Spring, that is when this place will be hopping. We just delivered 15 units of bark to a customer.” Wolford said. “It is important for our customers and soon-to-be customers to know that we love little projects, big projects, and anything in between. We can move large shipments, like the 30 yards to Dr. Gilge’s house recently.”

Dr. Leroy Gilge was pleased with the service, too. “They did just fine. It was delivered on time, handled professionally, and the product was good.”

A car enthusiast, Wolford recently returned from the world-famous Barrett-Jackson auto show in Scottsdale, Ariz. with a successful sale of a classic Camaro.

He restores six to eight classic cars annually with ’67-’69 Camaros being both his specialty and email moniker.

He and his wife, Maria, even took a trip to pick up a truck in San Diego and headed off to Baja in it. The Wolford family enjoys off-road racing.

Bill and Maria’s sons, Garrett and Blake, help out with the new business when they are home from college. Maria works there on her days off from Salon M.

Wolford’s auto business is focused on hard-to-find trucks, especially diesels, 4-wheel drives, lifted trucks with big tires and wheels, and specialty trucks.

His customers find him on the Internet and come from all over the west, especially Idaho, Washington and other parts of Oregon. He also gets some fuel-efficient cars for first-time buyers.

In both his businesses, he wants his customers to have a great experience and be happy with their purchase.

“People come from a long way to get cars and trucks from us. We make sure the rigs are inspected, serviced, detailed, and ready to go. We are not Seattle or Portland, so to get people to come here, we have to know our stuff, turn out great quality, and it has to make economic sense for our customers,”  Wolford said.

The same holds true for the wood products business.

“We sell bark dust for landscaping, and people have choices. We want to compete on price, service, quality, and experience of our staff. If you need sawdust for your stables or blueberry fields, hog fuel for your muddy areas, or rock for your landscaping job, we think you are going to like what you find here.”

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