CAPITAL ORIGINAL WHEELS
THE HISTORY OF CAPITAL WHEELS, A SUBSIDARY OF CAPITAL AUTO WRECKING & USED CARS, INC.
It started in Los Angeles with two hot rod enthusiasts still in high school; Mike Huniu and his cousin “Fast” Eddie Levy. Their shared auto shop class was about the only thing keeping them in school. It’s very likely that the only reason they even graduated was that they worked on the principal’s car.
They did their work in Mike’s father’s garage behind his house. When it began to spill out onto the lawn, they were told to take their hobby somewhere else. By this time, they had graduated high school and had saved enough money to go into business together.
It was in the early 1950’s when they bought a service station on the corner of 51st Street and Hoover which, back then, was a nice part of town. After a few more years of fixing and racing cars, they decided that they like tearing cars apart better than just putting them together.
Mike’s mother-on-law found an existing business for sale listed in the newspaper. It was called Joe’s Auto Wrecking. She did not care for the term “junkyard”, but knew that this is what Mike and Eddie were looking for. The business was located on a strangely named street, South Figueroa, in a small town called Gardena. The year was 1955 and Mike and Eddie named their newly acquired business Capital Auto Wrecking & Used Cars, Inc., or simply: CAPITAL.
In 1965 Ford was producing the first series of Mustangs, Johnson was our President, and his wife Lady Bird started hollering about the salvage yards. She wanted them closed down because they looked so ugly. Mike and Eddie did not agree, but they thought it might be a good idea to “pretty up” their yard anyway. They had a new building constructed, a 12 foot high solid fence installed, as well as curbs and gutters and had some landscaping done. As their business continued to grow and turn a profit, Mike always wanted to spend it on improvements, luckily Eddie usually agreed.
Mike had a son named Norman. Norman was a college-man as well as a businessman. While attending business classes at Long Beach State University, he ran a swap meet business selling ladies clothing out of four vans. After graduating with a bachelor’s degree in business administration, he went back to work at Nordstrom Department Store as the manager of the shoe department.
In 1981, Mike and Eddie decided that it would be a great idea to have a son or daughter work with them in the business, but who?
Enter Mike’s son Norman. By this time, he was not keen on a career at Nordstrom, finding business attire much too uncomfortable for day to day wear. He decided that working long hours, getting his hands dirty, and making a little money working with Mike and Eddie worth a try.
Norman spent his first four years at Capital diversifying and expanding the existing business. It was around this time that car manufacturers began using more specialized wheels to “dress up” their vehicles. They also began using aluminum, poly cast, and rally wheels. This new phenomenon, along with the industry shift from rear to front wheel drive vehicles, created a large demand for wheels since the old style wheels would not fit on the new cars. As the years passed Capital began to look more like a wheel business than a used auto parts business.
“Fast” Eddie retired in 1986, and Mike and Norman bought his share of the company. Suddenly, the EPA was breathing down their necks.
“They gave us 30 days to get rid of a two story pile of motors, and clean up the dirt” Norman said. “I thought it was a great idea. It was something I knew we wanted to do, but we needed the incentive of the EPA to go through with it”.
Away went the motor and transmission piles, away went the contaminated dirt and with it, the old way of doing auto dismantling. They met the EPA’s requirements, but Norman felt that was not enough, he wanted to continue with the updating of the yard. To that end, he had the entire yard, which is just shy of two acres, cemented.
“We spent two years getting the yard organized”, Norman continued. “We purchased racks or made our own. We labeled the racks, and mapped their locations. We installed a computer inventory system, and we did it all ourselves to save money. We also began to purchase later model and newer cars to dismantle”.
In 1988 Norman’s father, and business partner passed away. This left 29 year old Norman in charge of a growing enterprise. He continually refocused Capital’s goals and objectives, realizing the increasing demand for original equipment wheels. Unable to accomplish this alone, Norman searched for great managers and assembled an energetic sales team. Today Capital has one of the most qualified and knowledgeable sales staff in the industry.
As the years have passed, Capital Auto Wrecking & Used Cars, Inc. has become better known as Capital Original Wheels, or simply Capital Wheels. We now proudly proclaim that most of our business comes from the O.E.M wheel industry. We sell new, used, and “take off” wheels- that is wheels that are used but are in almost new condition, in addition to reconditioned wheels.
The wheel division of Capital has grown by leaps and bounds. Currently stocking thousands of chrome plated, and alloy wheels for immediate shipment. We offer special programs for chroming your aftermarket alloys. In fact, our wheel division has now grown to include chrome plating and exchange of all types of O.E.M. wheels, as well as motorcycle wheels.
We have seen our business through expansion into wheel repair and refinishing.
To that end, we built a state of the art repair facility utilizing the latest in wheel repair technology. We can straighten wheels from simple, minor bends due to potholes or curb scratches, to welding from more serious damage. We specialize in welding cracks. We can do in house re-facing of wheels with our digitized C.N.C. lathe which actually re-cuts the face of the wheel to return it to showroom condition. Finally, we can color match and paint your wheels or powdercoat them for long lasting durability.
Another service Capital offers is sandblasting of small parts as well as wheels. Because we can do this right on our premises, our turn around time is very quick. Once the sandblasting is done, we can then powder coat the parts or wheels. We offer a large selection of colors to choose from. Each piece gets powercoated, then baked for a long lasting, durable finish.
Capital also manufactures and sells O.E.M. reproduction wheels. Many of these wheels are hard to find, or just hard to find in stock. Please check out the replica section of our website, www.capitalwheels.com, for more information on our reproduction line.
It seems like everyone wants to sell Capital their take off wheels. To address this facet of the business, we have trained personnel who specialize in the buying of O.E.M. wheels as well as take off steel wheels, alloy wheels and wheelcovers. Capital is committed to offering fair and competitive pricing for your take off wheels.
Norman has continued the vision of his father: “The importance of customer satisfaction, of goal setting, looking to the future, and striving for perfection”.
Capital has since become one of the leading companies in the O.E.M. wheel industry.
Today, Norman still hears his father’s words of wisdom about customer satisfaction being goal one.