founder Donnas Oakleaf started out like many farmers in the
Midwest trying to make a living any way he could. Growing up
Donnas loved to work with his hands and fix things, including
cars. Slowly he started to amass a collection of cars on his
homestead with his wife in rural Hartford, South Dakota. After
complications when his second son was born, Donnas decided to
make salvaging cars a full time business in 1955.
During this time, Lady Bird Johnson
started the cleaning up America campaign. Seeing an opportunity
to boost an already thriving business, Donnas purchased the
first car crusher to be owned and operated in South Dakota.
This mobile crusher allowed Donnas to
travel and help in Lady Bird Johnsonís mission to clean up
America. Crushing anything composed of iron including bicycles,
farm machinery, and rusty dilapidated cars, Donnas was able to
process more metal to send off to smelting facilities that would
melt it down to make recycled steel.
so many places to travel to within the five-state area, in 1968
Donnas obtained his pilot license. During this time, he also
acquired a small airplane and turned some of his land in
Hartford, South Dakota into a landing strip for airplanes.
Although, he crashed some of his airplanes, one of the air
planes and the air landing strip he made are still in use today.
Because of his great boom in business, in
1971 Donnas decided to sell off the majority of his car salvage
business in Hartford, South Dakota and solely focus on the
metals recycling end. Still infatuated with cars, he decided to
keep a small collection of his most treasured cars for himself.
Even though he decided to sell off his salvage business in
Hartford, in 1977 Donnas bought another salvage yard in Grand
Island, Nebraska in 1977.
Over the years, Donnas continued to help
recycle metal while keeping the best cars for himself and his
family. During this time Donnas passed on his love and knowledge
of cars and recycling to his four sons whom he hoped would one
day run his business. Sadly, on May, 10 1995 Donnas Oakleaf
passed away leaving his wife and four sons in charge of his
Upon his passing, the sons decided to
continue his legacy and keep recycling metals in Hartford, South
Dakota and the salvage yard open in Grand Island, Nebraska.
They decided that it would be best for the youngest son to take
control of the salvage yard and the three eldest would jointly
control the crushing and recycling business in Hartford, South
Dakota along with Donnasí car collection.
with tradition, the three sons have continued to run the metals
recycling business whilst leaving the car collection mainly
untouched. Over the years, the brothers continued to collect
more vehicles and the collection has grown to over 15 acres of
vehicles dating from the 1915ís all the way to the present.
Deciding that they could no longer allow
the cars to just sit and rust away, they reopened the salvage
yard business in 2008 and are helping people around the world
restore their own little pieces of history. In late 2012, the
business began the process of updating their records to an
electronic database system to keep a more accurate inventory and
better serve the needs of their customers. This project is still
a work in progress and additional inventory is being updated