West Fargo salvage yard shares foreign talent solution with firms around US, world

The setup is best understood when experienced in person, and on a recent morning Daniel Hazer and his father, Duane, provided visitors with a tour of their operation.

A man in a blue baseball cap and matching sweatshirt wears a headset and appears on a large screen.
Marco Castro, working remotely from the Philippines, is ready to help customers at Hazer's Auto & Truck Parts in West Fargo.
David Samson / The Forum

WEST FARGO — About four years ago, Daniel Hazer began having serious worries about the area's labor shortage and the ability of his family's business — Hazer's Auto & Truck Parts in West Fargo — to continue finding enough workers to keep things up and running.

Then he heard about a hospital in North Dakota that found the workers it needed in the Philippines.

So, that's where Hazer went.

A man in a black baseball cap and matching polo shirt looks at a computer screen with a video feed of an office bull pen.
Using a video link, Daniel Hazer checks in on his overseas work team in the Philippines from his family's business in West Fargo.
David Samson / The Forum

Once there, he became acquainted with two churches whose members were eager to hear Hazer's ideas about working for a North Dakota salvage yard.

However, physically getting the workers to North Dakota presented a problem, given the issues surrounding immigration.


Hazer decided that if he couldn't bring the workers to West Fargo, he would bring West Fargo to the workers.

Over the course of a few years, he established a system of hardware and software that allows a group of Filipino employees who work out of a rented office in the Philippines to appear to be working in the front office of Hazer's in West Fargo.
The setup is best understood when experienced in person, and on a recent morning Daniel Hazer and his father, Duane, provided visitors with a tour of their operation.

On that day, four men working in the office in the Philippines were interacting with Hazer's customers and local workers via four large TV monitors, with most of the monitors located in the reception area of the salvage business.

A man in a baseball cap wearing a head set is on a screen while a person in a hooded sweatshirt talks to him in a dark office.
Don MacKenzie, working remotely from the Philippines, helps a customer at Hazer's Auto & Truck Parts in West Fargo.
David Samson / The Forum

Because of the fast internet connection, conversations take place in real time, and it's easy to forget the communication is taking place between people thousands of miles apart.

"This is the future," said Don Mackenzie, one of the Filipino workers providing virtual assistance via a video hookup.

"The interaction between us is really nice, and the connection is really good," Mackenzie said, describing his experience with customers who come through the door looking for vehicle parts and other salvage items.

Often, inventory is located electronically by the foreign workers who can handle the entire transaction from their office in the Philippines.

Local employees then provide the customers with the items purchased.


Business hours at Hazer's are during the day, so the Filipino workers must work overnight shifts in their home country.

But that's not a problem, according to Jim Perez, one of the virtual customer assistants who calls his new job at Hazer's life-changing.

"I'm so happy," said Perez, whose previous employment included many years working in a call center for an American phone company.

A man in a baseball cap and headset appears on a computer screen above another screen that reads "Hazer auto parts."
Jim Perez, working from the Philippines, mans one of the customer stations at Hazer's Auto & Truck Parts in West Fargo.
David Samson / The Forum

"This family is giving me all of the good stuff — the training, all of the things I need to know," Perez said, adding that although he works nights, he now gets weekends off, which is something he didn't have with his old job.

A video that was posted to YouTube features Hazer's employees on a team-building outing in the Philippines that includes appearances by Daniel Hazer.

In addition to providing virtual assistance to Hazer's customers, the Filipino workers also monitor cameras that have been set up around the salvage yard to maintain security. When intruders are detected, the workers notify West Fargo police.

That vigilance has prevented major trouble, according to Daniel Hazer, who added that word is apparently getting around, because attempted incursions have all but stopped.
The salvage business started around 1967 on a former sheep pasture by Duane Hazer's late brother, Ron, who left the business in the mid-1970s and died in 2012.

Duane's father, Lester, joined the salvage company in 1969 after quitting farming, and Duane joined the business in 1974 after having worked as a teacher.


A close-up of an older man with a baseball cap on gesturing. His hat reads "Hazer's."
Duane Hazer talks about this new remote work force at Hazer's Auto & Truck Parts in West Fargo.
David Samson / The Forum

Lester died in 2018 at age 105.

Daniel Hazer, who joined the business about 12 years ago, said they have about 15 employees in the Philippines, and they are in the process of hiring about a dozen more foreign workers.

He said they are looking to hire a number of people in Guatemala who will man sophisticated work stations that use joysticks to operate heavy machinery remotely.

The stations will allow workers to control large machinery located in the salvage yard that are capable of tearing vehicles apart and crushing metal into compact bales.

The Hazers say salvage yards around the U.S. and the world are facing labor shortages similar to theirs. They said their West Fargo business has become something of a temporary labor service for other operations, putting those companies in touch with workers in the Philippines to handle tasks in places like Texas and Australia.

A man in a long-sleeve shirt and khakis takes a call while standing in a long hall bordered by tires.
Duane Hazer takes a call at Hazer's Auto & Truck Parts in West Fargo.
David Samson / The Forum

According to Daniel Hazer, in this part of the U.S., heavy equipment operators can command a minimum of $30 an hour, and many workers make more.

When it comes to the soon-to-be-hired workers in Guatemala, Daniel Hazer said he expects to pay them about $40-$50 a day, which he acknowledged is far less than American workers receive for operating heavy machinery, but he said it's about double the typical pay in Guatemala for such work.

One of the things the Hazers say impresses them about the overseas workers is the positive attitude they bring to the job.


That positivity is a natural result of the way the employees and Hazers work together, according to Mackenzie, who added, "We're like a family here."

Duane Hazer agreed.

"This is fun," he said. "It's so much fun."

I'm a reporter and a photographer and sometimes I create videos to go with my stories.

I graduated from Minnesota State University Moorhead and in my time with The Forum I have covered a number of beats, from cops and courts to business and education.

I've also written about UFOs, ghosts, dinosaur bones and the planet Pluto.

You may reach me by phone at 701-241-5555, or by email at
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