FRASER (WWJ) – You’ve probably heard the phrase, “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure” — and this story takes that to a whole new level. A Fraser, Mich., company has collected “stuff” for decades, and is now re-purposing it for a brand new business.
Standing out among all their stuff is tens of thousands of license plates — Let’s just say Donna Kostrick and her husband of 62 years Fred Kostrick have a thing for tags.
“When we started this it was just a hobby. We made signs and gave them away,” said Donna Kostrick. “People would say, ‘why are you giving it away? Why don’t you start making what people want and start charging them?’”
It doesn’t matter from what state, or even from what year — They like and accept them all. Their hobby is now a thriving family business called License Plate Heaven.
All the Kostricks, including mom, dad, son, daughters and even the grandkids, participate in the business. They make pretty much anything from these precious metal plates. Daughter Sue Dorris said, “We make signs, maps, airplanes, purses. You know that’s why we say ‘License Plate Heaven’ where license plates get a new life.”
Just two years into the official license plate upcycling business, License Plate Heaven is making a big impact – all over the earth and on pretty much every continent. “I grew up in 1932 so that means my parents had scratch to make a living and we were taught not to throw things away,” Donna Kostrick said.
The Kostricks store all their excess license plates in a semi-tractor trailer parked at their Fraser site. It’s packed with tens of thousands of license plates. They are collected, washed, categorized from every state and from every year since way back in the 1920’s. Their oldest plate is from Michigan, 1925.
Fifty thousand plates are from all U.S. states. Another 50,000 plates are from throughout Mexico. They’re being cut, reshaped, re-tooled and given a new life — satisfying a growing world-wide customer base. “We have orders from Japan, Germany, Ireland – all over the world, really.”
What license plate are they missing? Croatia, the former Yugoslavia, is missing from their collection and they’d love to have one.