Award winning local business for sale as owner retires

Sandy Dalgarno
Sandy Dalgarno

After 50 years of leading the field of vehicle recycling, a well-known local business entrepreneur is set to retire.

Sandy Dalgarno of Overton Vehicle Dismantlers has decided to retire to spend more time with his wife, family and his classic cars and motorcycles.

Sandy hard at work

Sandy hard at work

Overton Vehicle Dismantlers, off Dyce Drive near Aberdeen Airport, has been a local landmark to incoming air travellers since 1968.

Looking down on its neat rows of cars awaiting stripping for parts or recycling, few could imagine the part this local business has played in changing the face of vehicle recycling and motor insurance across the whole UK.

Every car owner has benefited from its success in some way, as has our environment and the industry of recycling.

The business was established in 1968 when Alexander William Dalgarno (Sandy), a time served motor vehicle engineer (trained on Fords at Cordiners, Aberdeen) opened his own car repair and body shop business on the existing site.

In 1970 Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire Police were having difficulty finding somebody to provide a 24-hour accident recovery service. Never afraid of hard work Sandy bought a Land Rover recovery vehicle, took the contract, and never looked back.

Left with some of the crashed cars, he started dismantling them and selling the spares. “The first car was a Hillman Imp” he recalls.

Today, approximately 150,000 cars later, the business processes 15-16 cars a day, dismantling for spares or recycling, which is now a very sophisticated operation.

In the early years Sandy had to tender for every car from insurance companies, but in 1980 Overton was awarded the first of many insurance contracts, taking in every damaged vehicle from across two thirds of Scotland for Guardian Royal Exchange.

Overton Dismantlers has always been at the forefront of improvements of the environmental efficiency of the motor industry through recycling. Overton was one of the first to be involved in the ‘car end of life’ schemes with manufacturers and has pioneered practices which mean that 95% of every car is now recycled.

A major part of today’s Overton salvage business is the weekly car auction for damaged-repairable vehicles. On behalf of mainly the insurance companies cars are comprehensively photographed, accurately described and made available for inspection. Buyers from all over the UK can bid throughout the week and the auction finishes on Saturday.

For this work Sandy and Overton have received a number of awards from insurance companies.

These include for improvements in salvage and recycling processes, reduction in recovery and storage costs and improved working practices which have saved money and helped them reduce insurance premiums. From one leading insurer Overton was awarded their ‘Overall supplier of the Year’ a for saving them over £5m.

They were also awarded the Automotive Recyclers Association international ‘Beautification Award’ for their own working practices, caring for the environment, and Sandy himself was awarded the Business and Finance magazine’s top award for ‘Personal Achievement’.

Reflecting on his time in business Sandy puts his success down to hard work and the team he has around him.

“I have been so lucky with people,” he reflects. “Some of my staff have spent a large part of their working lives with Overton and are truly at the heart of the business. It is time for me to retire and hand on to somebody else but I am selling the business as a going concern knowing that whoever takes it over can step right in and has the whole team they need to make it all work.”