Hudson Salvage, LLC, has the enviable position of knowing their business will roll along in good times and bad times. Shoppers will always want bargains and will especially need them if a recession comes.
The Internet doesn’t hurt bargain shopping, either. “People want to see and touch things,” says Bill Hudson. “Everyone wants a bargain, and we’ve stayed with our time-tested methods to sustain business.”
The first fire sale
COLUMBIA — The CEO of Hudson Salvage Center has died in an Alabama hospital of injuries sustained during the Dec. 23, 2014 tornado in Marion County, Mississippi.
Billy Hudson followed his father into the salvage business in 1957 and opened his first store in Magee. He continued to build the family business through his growing network of salvage-purchase relationships and the opening of more stores. He retired in 1996 and was elected to the state Senate.
Today, Billy’s son, Bill Hudson, is at the helm of the company that includes Treasure Hunt, Dirt Cheap and the Billy C. Hudson Company, which is the buying division of Hudson Salvage, LLC. Bill’s brother, Ben, joined the business and presently runs Hudson Capital Assets.
Bill Hudson says he and Ben began at the bottom loading and unloading salvaged merchandise from tractor trailers. Now, Bill’s son-in-law, Justin Ekrich, is being added to the roster of family members working at the company, and Bill says he, too, is starting at the bottom to learn the business. It remains to be seen if Bill’s two sons will come into the company. Presently, one is a student at West Point Military Academy and the other is an engineering student in Indiana.
Rob Roberts, a corporate tax lawyer, began his career with Hudson’s 12 years ago with a specific focus on customer return inventories and growing the Dirt Cheap stores. He is now co-CEO of Dirt Cheap and Treasure Hunt with Bill Hudson.
Defending its corporate culture
Although some people may say the success of Hudson’s Salvage is due to luck, Bill Hudson doesn’t agree. “We’re a Christian company and feel like God has blessed us. We surround ourselves with the best talent we can find,” he says. “I want people smarter and more skilled than I am. Our group of people separates us.”
He believes the company’s culture attracts the best people, and says they jealously defend that culture. It consists of five core values that employees are mandated to follow. They must be full of integrity, embrace diligence, have a positive attitude, respect all associates and treat them equally and strive for growth and development.
“We want everyone trying to do better,” Hudson says. “That means trying to climb the ladder and have more responsibility and make more money. We have all types at Hudson’s, and believe in keeping our word, working hard and having fun.”
As the company looks to the future, these values will continue. “Our creed is to sell desirable products at prices less than any competition can while making enough profit to fulfill our destiny,” Hudson says. “That’s the heart of the company. Our creed is not just a cute saying or a motto for the office wall, but a belief system that permeates our entire organization.”
Hudson’s Salvage does not order any merchandise from manufacturers. Rather, it has a purchasing method that focuses on buying goods from the insurance industry that are damaged due to fire, tornado, hurricane, floods, earthquakes or other acts of nature. They also purchase industry problems such as closeouts, end of season goods, irregulars, customer returns, freight or warehouse damages, bankruptcies or foreclosed products through lending institutions.
‘Ultimate extreme value retailer’
“We consider ourselves an opportunistic purchasing company, meaning we will buy any product that lends itself to self-service retail,” Hudson says. “We hope we’ll be the ultimate extreme value retailer in the world.”
He says there is no demographic of Hudson’s shoppers. “We have all kinds — you can scan our parking lots and see that by the cars,” he says. “Some people won’t take the time to shop for bargains. It’s not a fast food in-and-out kind of place.”
Hudson’s is in the process of adding 10 new stores to the Dirt Cheap line this year and hopes to add 12 more next year. That will bring the total for both stores to 44 by the end of December. The company averages 1,000 employees with up to 1,200 during busy seasons.
Contact MBJ contributing writer Lynn Lofton at email@example.com.