Sunset Beach Auto Salvage was not always an auto salvage yard. In the very beginning it was a sand quarry, and then from 1939 to 1962 it was a very popular swimming beach. Patrons were charged a quarter to swim in the pond that was formerly the old quarry.
The pond is about 7 acres and even to this day has a very nice sandy beach area adjoining 38 acres of land making up Sunset Beach. My grandfather, Lee Mitchell, had been very successful building Iowa’s largest transmission repair shop, Mitchell Transmission, which started out as one of Des Moines first auto salvage yards. My grandfather and his brother Dick began working on building the transmission business after selling and installing used transmission for his customers at the salvage yard. After many years and quite a lot of trying times, the business took off and became very successful.
In 1962 Lee purchased Sunset Beach with the hopes of having a place where he could peruse his other passion, raising and caring for animals, as well as having another auto salvage yard to work from. My father, Dan, asked his father why he wanted to call the auto salvage yard Sunset Beach, he simply replied “because everyone will know where it is”. He was correct! Even to this day we have countless older people telling us they swam here as kids.
In 1972 my grandfather asked my father to move to Sunset Beach to get it up and running and take care of his many animals, my father agreed to do so. My father had a hard time getting started, because there were already some auto salvage yards in the area, and they did not like the idea of new competition. After overcoming many obstacles Sunset beach began to grow and prosper. I was in search of job after working in a auto dealership for the parts department, my father asked me to join him at the auto salvage yard. I was reluctant at first since we had worked together many years ago, and had several difficulties since we are both extremely strong willed, but I gave it shot and here I am.
We have 5 employees, my brother Kirk, Justin (who has been with us for 23 years), Ron, (8 years) and Dale (going on 4 years) Thanks to My grandfathers idea, My Fathers tenacity,and a lot of help from some great employees, we have made Sunset Beach one of Des Moines best auto savage yards.