Mitchell man turns scrap material into innovative creations, electric vehicles and machinery
“If I see something cool, my brain starts ticking right away about what things I could make with it,” said Shawn Holland, who is the process of building a side-by-side UTV from scrap material.
MITCHELL — When Shawn Holland thinks of something he wants to create, whether it be a remote control lawn mower or electric vehicle, he somehow finds a way to make it.
Holland, who is widely known in Mitchell as The Scrapper Guy, creates a wide array of functional equipment and vehicles using scrap material that he finds through various ways like rummage sales and spring cleanup.
“If it’s in my head, I have to make it,” Holland said of his unique inventions. “If I see something cool, my brain starts ticking right away about what things I could make with it.”
His lifelong passion for turning scrap metals and other thrown away materials into machinery recently led Holland to open a business fittingly dubbed The Scrapper Guy. Rather than working out of his garage at home, the self-taught innovator found a spot on Burr Street to piece together his creations.
Some of the latest things he’s made from scrap pieces are an electric car equipped with a bass sound system and a side-by-side UTV. The electric car Holland recently made is powered by a motor that he removed from a forklift.
“I’ve made so many weird things like an automatic chair rocker and hoverboard,” Holland said.
With a location established on Burr Street next to the Dry Run Creek Skatepark, it allows people to take scrap pieces to Holland’s shop. There, Holland will take a peek at whatever people bring down and consider offers to buy them.
While many people go to college and trades schools to learn how to engineer and electrically wire equipment and machinery, Holland hasn’t spent a day inside a classroom learning from anyone. As Holland put it, he’s a “self-taught kind of guy.”
“Ever since I was a kid, I just always wanted to make stuff out of things that gave me wild ideas. I’ve spent a lot of time doing this, and there are times you can get very mad when things aren’t working the way you thought they would,” he said. “There are times I will run into an issue when I don’t have a part I have to have. I will either go to the store and buy that piece like say wood or manufacture it myself.”
Among all of the unique creations he’s produced, Holland said the remote control lawn mower still stands out as one of his “proudest makes.” He’s convinced the remote control lawn mower he built with scrap metals and an engine was the first of its kind. However, not long after he made it, Holland came across the first remote control lawn mower in a magazine.
“It had cameras on it that make it so you can sit on the comfort of your couch and mow your lawn. When I was making the remote control lawn mower in 2008, neighbors were thinking I was crazy,” Holland laughed. “I was kicking myself for not looking into a patent.”
As a kid growing up in Mitchell, Holland’s passion for finding uses of what others may view as trash has been shared with lifelong friend, Dave Stults.
Stults is operating a small engine repair business inside Holland’s shop, where he works on golf cart engines, ATVs and lawn mower engines, to name a few. The duo feeds off one another when they are in the shop together, but they envision future uses of scrap materials much differently.
“He’s the type that makes most things into something else, I’m the type that makes things in bad shape back to what it was before. I want to make it perfect,” Stults said. “For me, it’s repurposing things.”
For Holland, it’s not about the money. Making enough money to feed his innovative mind and produce the things he drums up is enough for Holland. His computer knowledge has provided him another avenue of income with his side computer business.
While his friends have encouraged him to sell some of his creations, Holland usually holds onto his makes or tears them apart to make something new.
“This is what I love to do. I can’t keep myself away from it. It’s not work to me,” Holland said.
Sharing creations, knowledge with community
Some of his work has been shared with the Mitchell community and quickly captured their attention. At the 2020 Parade of Lights in downtown Mitchell, Holland’s Christmas-themed float that he made from scratch earned the Best Use of Lights title.
Considering he spent several months building the float and wiring all of the lights that adorned it, taking home the Parade of Lights award was a milestone achievement for Holland.
“I love when people appreciate the crazy things I make. It means more to me than any money,” he said.
Holland said he’s always willing to share his self-learned knowledge on engineering and electrical work.
Not only does he give people tips, Holland sometimes goes as far as giving away some things he’s made like a hoverboard and speakers.
The vehicles Holland has built – including his latest eclectic car – have become well known around the Mitchell area due to the bass speakers he installed. The Hulk van that’s no longer in existence was perhaps the most popular vehicle he ever created, which helped Holland earn awards in car audio contests.
“The Hulk van did 160 decibels. That thing was a crowd favorite it seemed wherever I took it,” Holland said of his Hulk van, which remnants of it can be seen in front of his shop on Burr Street.
To break down the intensity of the sound his Hulk van radiated, sound levels for fireworks are considered to be 140 decibels.
It’s rare for Holland to blast the bass speakers in his latest electric car creation that’s backed with a bass sound system that radiates 154 decibels. But when he does, anyone who is remotely near will likely hear it rattling the ground.