These changes have put pressure on the business to the point of almost closing its doors, which would not only be a major blow to the family and longtime employees, but could also put tons of unwanted bumpers into landfills.
“The problem has really intensified for us in the last few weeks,” said Foote in December. “Things just dropped off the last two weeks in November; we lost about five bumpers per day---the bottom just fell out. We’re losing about $1,500 per day in sales and are deciding whether to fold up shop. I’ve been doing this since 1975, so it’s a big deal to me. I’m not asking for a lot---just to continue business so we can get bumpers either repaired or recycled.”
The shop and yard at Faith Bumper Service is filled with bumper inventory, but they regularly get truckloads of about 80 bumpers brought in from auto body shops. To demonstrate the impact of the business closing, Foote recently stopped the bumper deliveries, leaving them to pile up at various Bay Area auto body shops, from which he said they’ll likely end up being taken to landfills in the potential absence of Faith Bumper. Despite this illustration, Foote admitted that there’s only so much the shops can do, and that the future lies with decision-making made by insurance companies and consumers.
“It’s a matter of keeping all these families employed; that’s our main concern,” Foote stated. “The older guys are going to have a tough time. There are people who I know it’s going to hurt.”
At one time, the idea emerged of Faith Bumper Service expanding to do the recycling onsite, but such an operation would require about $250,000 worth of machinery and an amount of space not feasible for a small family business to acquire. Foote said that only a handful of companies recycle bumpers nationwide. Some bumpers have been sent to China, but the Chinese government started limiting the amount of international waste it imports in 2018.