Salvage, stories and song

Story by Ana Facio Contreras
Photos by Aurelio José Barrera

Those who visit Freeway Building Materials, a salvage yard in Boyle Heights, will not only leave with vintage claw-foot tubs, doors, windows and fixtures, but also with an earful of owner Alejandro Acevedo’s philosophy on life, business or the news of the day.

“I tell people, I don’t want just your money, but your business and friendship, too. Friends refer other friends to my business if I treat them well,” Acevedo said in Spanish. “The base of a good business is to be honest with people and treat them well.”

And that’s part of the reason why he said he has been in business for more than 20 years at the appropriately named salvage yard, which sits in middle of where the 10, 60 and 5 freeways meet in Boyle Heights. Amid the rows of vintage fixtures, several trees and plants bloom as a result of his green thumb. Acevedo, who worked in demolitions in the 1980s, also rents some of the vintage fixtures for movie shoots.

But whether he remains in business depends on the economy. He said if business doesn’t improve soon, he would consider closing shop. But Acevedo tries to keep a positive attitude and hopes the economy improves. On any given day, customers visiting his salvage yard are greeted with a smile and loud music, Motown to classic rock or whatever he’s in the mood for on the radio.

“Music keeps negative energy away,” he said.

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