On Track For Greatness
Automotive recyclers gathered at the ARA 72nd Annual Convention & Expo resolved together to push through the tough challenges facing it. "Let's make auto recycling great again," encouraged Incoming President Mike Swift as a call to unite. If the positive energy at the event is any gauge, this industry will see its way through.
A successful gathering of professional automotive recyclers can only be judged by what attendees have to say regarding the event. In the case of the 72nd Annual Automotive Recyclers Association Convention & Expo, the results are in. Close to 1,000 attendees from as far and wide as the United States, Canada, UK, China, Japan, Ireland, Lithuania, Australia, Germany, and Spain converged upon Charlotte, North Carolina, in October 2015. The sessions and social events were robustly attended, and the Exhibition boasted the most vendors in recent ARA history, with 109 exhibiting companies.

“I was impressed with the number of vendors,” says Leland Boone, Vice President of Operations, Intermountain Auto Recycling, Inc. in Rigby, Idaho. “We talked with many of them at the last show and was glad to see them again to take advantage of the opportunity.” Intermountain Auto Recycling, owned by five of the Boone brothers (two more are working to enter the business), first attended the 2009 ARA Convention in Kentucky. They were impressed and it kept these progressive ARA members coming back for more.

With five owners, running a family business can be challenging, yet Boone says each brother has their own area of expertise. When attending the convention, he says, “I have more say in my area, which is dismantling, so I look for ideas and services to improve it. Intermountain is CAR certified, and “looking to be Gold Seal certified very soon. We thought we were efficient, then we found we were light years behind,” he says. “My favorite part of the convention experience is networking. I enjoy talking to people who’ve done it better or longer in order to get ideas to improve.”

“Thank you all for inviting me to your organization and to the ARA Convention in Charlotte,” says Dalius Rimsa, Euro Impex Utena, Lithuania. “These few days made my world wider in an educational and professional sense. I can tell you, indeed, I have not seen a organization so strong, active, workable, educational, and like a family, uniting people from an industry that is almost impossible to unite in other countries. I enjoyed my time of being there.”
When asked what they enjoyed most, John Grant and Jennifer Godinez, Carolina Salvage, Rock Hill, SC say, “Everything’s impactful. The recall and liability sessions were very good.”

Even the ARA staff commented on the convention buzz. “The Educational Sessions were excellent with many members discussing worthwhile take-aways. And the Expo was the best ever, with high energy exhibitors,” noted Delanne Bernier, ARA Director of Policy and Political Affairs. ARA Director of Member Services Kelly Badillo says, “The buzz seemed very positive.” It was tough for her to choose a highlight, but says, “Matlock’s was really something to see.”

Artsy Yard Tour

The Convention began with a popular social event – the Yard Tour and BBQ. Hosted by Jeff Matlock and his team at Matlock’s Used Cars & Parts, Inc., in Claremont, NC, a Gold Seal facility. The guests first noticed the car made into a ladybug on the roof – what Matlock’s calls “car part art.” Another auto with figures of “car part art” people greeted guests near the office entrance. Inside, a vintage wood teller’s window filled the length of the room, along with a display of smaller art created by the Matlock’s team. Guests knew they were in for something unusual.

The tour continued into a museum of repurposed treasures. “I love repurposing things and giving them a new life,” Jeff Matlock said as he showed guests around the room.

A few rooms into the facility, a display of floor-to-ceiling glass cases were filled with heart-shaped boxes. This facility was once the largest maker of candy heart boxes; therefore, even the building itself has been proudly repurposed.

Auto recyclers enjoyed viewing the organized shelving units filled with car parts in the huge warehouse facility, and the vast acres of neatly rowed cars. Many enjoyed an evening walk among the cars, a landscape that was a sight to see. The night of food and friendships, with an interesting backdrop was a great success.

The next day, attendees were ready to get down to business.

Committee News

The members of the ARA Educational Foundation Board, hosted by ARAEF President Roger Schroder,, and Ginny Whelan, the Foundation’s Director, discussed their new platform and exciting new offerings for 2016.

The Foundation has enlisted the help of a new technology company that is already specializing in automotive training with automotive dealerships, OEMs, auto service, and equipment, truck and RV dealers (Read the article in November-December 2015 magazine). This new partnership with KPA Online allows ARA University to have more training options in environmental health & safety, employee training, human resources, and even sales & finance compliance. There will be more customized training offered to enhance the current training. As of March 1, 2016, subscription rates to are $110 a month for non-ARA Members and $55 month for ARA members. 

Also, ARA University will be reviewing how to incorporate the ARA Airbag Pro Protocol. “We need to compass that,” says Whelan. “It contains recall tracking capabilities and I’d like to explore how it might help members.” In any case, it is a good time to re-evaluate the whole airbag program to benefit the industry.

This year was the first that the ARA University had its own dedicated exposition booth. “We were very pleased with the traffic and interest in ARA University from attendees,” Whelan said. “Everyone was excited at the possibilities for new and improved training. In fact, we enrolled twelve new companies at the booth.”

The Certified Auto Recycler (CAR) committee, chaired by Shannon Nordstrom, Nordstrom’s Automotive Inc., Sioux Falls, SD, reported on their new logo launch that marries the Green Recycled Parts® brand with the CAR logo. “More than just a logo,” Nordstrom says, “it’s a way of doing business.” The committee also made a splash at the convention by providing “Join the Green Team” t-shirts to CAR members to wear, and proudly revealing the “new” award that will be given to CAR Award Winners (see page 35 for a photo of the award).

Doug Reinert, Chuck’s Auto Salvage, Douglassville, PA, reported as Safety Committee Chair that the committee continues to be a source of information to keep workers safe at automotive recycling facilities. They published the Safety Checklist, sponsored by Wells Fargo and available from ARA headquarters, that keeps a facility OSHA-compliant.

Legislative Talk

The hallways were buzzing with talk of recalls and parts numbers.

Peter Muhic, Partner, Kessler Topaz Meltzer & Check LLP, the legal representative for professional automotive recyclers in the lawsuit against Takata Airbags, and ARA CEO Michael Wilson conducted a session to discuss the legal action.

This is the only suit of the 108 filed that represents professional automotive recyclers,” Muhic says. He emphasized how large the problems are. “The 17 million vehicles they thought once were affected is actually 34 million,” he affirms. “We are confident in our claims. We expect the judge to be most fair in his decision.”

“It is very important that we end up on the right side of this at the end of the day,” Wilson says. “We don’t want consumers worried about what is in your inventory.”

Since the convention, the U.S. District Judge in Miami, Federico Moreno, who is overseeing all the Takata airbag class action lawsuits, recently ruled against a motion filed by the Honda Motor Company and Takata Corporation to toss out a class action lawsuit by millions of vehicle owners, including the suit filed on behalf of ARA against Takata. The lawsuit, initiated by vehicle owners, alleges that Takata and automakers violated anti-racketeering laws and, as a result of these violations, the owners’ vehicles have lost significant value. Other suits alleging death claims are quietly being settled by Honda. It is reported in the trade press that four of the six U.S. death claims have been resolved with the families of those killed by the defective airbags.

In reference to this session, Steve Levetan, Executive Vice President, Pull-A-Part, LLC says, “This is a great opportunity for auto recyclers to get educated on the issue. Education is the first step to solutions. The first priority is recalls; getting the ability to identify parts recalled in order to comply with federal law that requires us to do so.”

ARA reports on lawsuit progress can be read in the bi-weekly Automotive Recycling E-Newsletter.

Motivational Insights

An ARA Convention always offers motivational moments and this year keynote speaker Jon O’Malley, founder of YouProfit business coaching, was the source. Since 2006, Jon has helped hundreds of small business owners increase revenue and profits, and regain their time, something Jon has lived out in his own professional career.

One downfall for many business owners, he noted first, “Your expertise can hold you back. It can be a handicap.” Often ‘experts’ chase the wrong things or fail to maximize the right thing. “You can’t change the results unless you change part of the equation.”

He led the attendees through a Profit/Conversion table to illustrate how changing variables in the equation affected the net profit bottom line. “Often, we chase the total instead of focusing the things that drive them.” He gave attendees seven drivers for success and suggested that focusing on changing one or more of the drivers, instead of focusing on bottom line, can lead to new net profits. (Read his article on page 47.)

He then suggested three areas of focus to increase the bottom line:
• Put more effort into gaining referrals. “It’s the best lead you can get.”
• Use a script. “Companies that use scripts convert at a higher rate.”
• Increase current client activity. “On average, it costs 700% more to get a new customer than to have an old customer buy again.” In their session, Robert and Chad Counts encouraged managing the “Cost of Sales” when looking at the yearly sales. “Inventory has a 90-day cycle,” says Chad. “Expenses can outpace sales when you don’t manage cost of sales in certain months.” His suggestion, “Commit to a purchasing of at least five months. It doesn’t help to spend a lot in one month and nothing the next month. You need to be consistent.” (Read Dashboard, November/December 2015, for the start of a three-part series.)

Jeff Schroder,, led a discussion on Collision Advice, emphasizing the need to be customer service-minded as a one-stop shop. “The buyer would prefer to buy all eight parts they need from one place; it makes it easier if there is a problem with the order or if they need a last-minute piece. They’ll call you for it since you just sold them the parts.” He suggests, “Do you want to miss a sale because you don’t have three of the parts? Consider the use of quality aftermarket parts. Selling more parts is the simplest way to make more dollars.”

Emphasizing workplace safety, Paul D’Adamo’s session, “Developing a Safety Culture,” made the case for staying ahead of compliance. “Do you know how much an eye injury costs you?,” he warns. “Your employees are your most valuable asset. Protect them.” When choosing the company’s safety gear, consider what the employees will actually wear. On those clunky old-style safety goggles, he said, “If you wouldn’t wear it, why expect your people to wear it.” In fact, he advised to keep them invested in safety, “Have the really cool safety glasses as prizes each month for employees who go above and beyond. Or, reward employees with food, cash, or other safety gear.”

The Ladies of the Automotive Recyclers Association (LARA) Breakfast was well-attended with old friends and new faces. Caryn Smith, Editor, Automotive Recycling magazine, spoke to the group on “Finding Purpose in Your Work, And How That Is Good For Business.” To have an inspired work and life, she encouraged attendees to be invigorated by their choices and roles, not depleted, suggesting they delegate, say “no” more often, and develop a personal mission statement to guide all decisions.

Smith found it beneficial to get involved in the community. “I was able to see the need in my area, find where I fit in, and have the time to help. I believe we should always give more and before you expect to receive. This outreach helped to associate my business to community leadership; it is great public relations. And it feeds my soul.”

Other helpful sessions included discussion on social media (see page 39), illegal operators, cores, Internet sales, IT, parts numbers, and shipping.

Presidential Night

The ARA Awards Dinner and Gavel Passing, with a  Winner’s Circle checkered flag theme had attendees dressed in black and white to pay tribute to members who have excelled (see award recipients on page 35).

Receiving the highest honor presented, Gary Beagell, Gary’s U-Pull-It, Inc., Binghamton, NY and Paul Davis, A-Plus Parts & Salvage, Inc., Wichita, KS, both became ARA Lifetime Honorary Members.

In a fun turn of events, Chair Shannon Nordstrom presented a new CAR award to ARA CAR Member of the Year, Michael Carcone, Carcone’s Auto Recycling, Aurora, Ontario in Canada. The new award is an embellished rotor, inspired by the late Past President Randy Reitman who had a strong vision for the CAR program. The recipient will hold the award for one year, and then present it to the next recipient at the next convention, and so on.
Closing the evening, 2014-15 ARA President Ricky Young, Young’s Auto Center & Salvage, made his final remarks, noting that he thoroughly enjoyed his year at the helm, and would miss the experience, stating it was a highlight of his professional career.

Incoming President Mike Swift, Swift’s Trails End Auto and Truck Salvage, Inc., remarked, “It is such an honor to be elected as your next President. To be the third representative from the State of Iowa is truly an honor. This is a responsibility that I do not take lightly, and I will endeavor to represent the ARA with the utmost transparency. Traveling through the U.S. these past years on behalf of the ARA have enabled me to meet with auto recyclers who are truly passionate about our industry. This is one of the most crucial times to be a member of the Association. The support that we can give to each other is never more important than in these times.”

Memorial Moments

Swift pointed out the absence of four important people to the ARA.

“We have lost some special people this past year that I would like to recognize,” Swift continued. “They are all great supporters and very helpful to both myself and the organization. Please recognize Mark Buessing – to whom the word ‘no’ was not an answer when he was out fundraising for ARA – Randy Reitman, Bob Phelps, and Jeff Kantor. They will all be missed.” All four men were great leaders within the industry. Interestingly, Mark Buessing, President of the ARA Scholarship Foundation for 10 years, tirelessly raised money to fund these memorial scholarships for others.

The most touching portion of the evening came when the families of the fallen ARA members each received a plaque to honor their loved one. Newly-established funds are the Mark Buessing Memorial Scholarship, Randy Reitman Memorial Scholarship and Billy Standridge Memorial Scholarship. The Jeff Kantor Memorial Scholarship was established in 2014. The respect and admiration was thick in room.

“It’s truly an honor to have scholarships established in memory of these gentlemen,” says Badillo, ARA liaison to the Scholarship Foundation. “It’s a testament to the type of people they were known to be. I hope between the hugs from friends, the pictures displayed, and the success of the fundraiser, and more, that these families really felt the love for those they lost.”

Super Donations

Raising money for the ARA Foundations (Scholarship and Educational on alternate years) is an important part of each convention. Larry DeMik of Supershear supports both foundation raffles year after year. DeMik is one vendor that has not missed a contribution in 11 years. Thus far, he has donated over $50,000 in equipment to help raise money for educating the children of auto recyclers and training automotive recyclers.

“I purchased Supershear in 2004, and became an ARA member and exhibitor at the trade show every year since. We’ve been donating a Supershear machine since 2005,” he notes. “I’ve been blessed. I have a great wife, great family, and a great business. I try to give, as all I have has been given to me by God to use while I live on this earth.”

The results of the ARA Scholarship Foundation efforts are in: Generous ARA members pulled together to raise $73,534 for post-secondary scholarships that go to children of the auto recycling facility workforce.

Doing Trade

The Exposition is a highpoint for many, as it is the only time to meet so many vendors face to face and see new products and services to improve operations. Vendors enjoy the chance to meet new people and solidify current business relationships.

“This year’s exposition is really good,” says JJ Feregino, We Buy Key Fobs. “We have already seen seven to eight different guaranteed future clients. We are very happy with the turn-out.”

ARA University’s new technology partner, Eric Schmitz from KPA, says, “The buzz around the new ARAU has been strong. The openness of the quality people and owners walking around the show floor is great. They are engaged and open to new solutions.”

With record numbers of cores companies on the expo floor, Jeff Stolberg, A&A Midwest owner, says, “More and more people are looking for a core program than we’ve ever seen.” It is important to ask the right questions, he stressed, when choosing a vendor. Asking when loads will be picked up, if they will honor price lists versus what the auto recycler is holding, and things of that nature.

Dave Stout of Just Packaging, Inc., a new exhibitor, raved that his booth encounters were “phenomenal.” He talked about the importance of uniform, branded packaging, and that many he spoke with needed a better source in order to compete in the marketplace.

Supporting Your Convention

The Diamond Sponsors of the ARA Convention partner with ARA for a reason.

“The show has been the best traffic – really good for me,” says Bill Velin, Wells Fargo Business Solutions, Diamond Sponsor. “It is brand building, coming to the show sustains my business relationships.” He mentioned that not attending is not an option for him, “You are conspicuous by your absence here.”

“The convention is one of Brock Supply’s opportunities to revisit current relationships and create new ones. We always find value in the collaborative and engaging atmosphere of the Auto Recycling Industry. ARA is where it all comes together,” says Jerry Brock, Chairman of the Board, and Diamond Sponsor. They have attended every trade show since 1968.

“Hollander is pleased to once again partner with the ARA as a Diamond sponsor. The meeting & expo provide us a great opportunity to highlight our new innovative solutions, network with our clients and support the industry,” says Chris Budion, Director Sales.

The Future of Cars

Keynote Speaker Tanvir Arfi, President, Service Maintenance and Repair Platform at Solera Holdings, Inc., had the standing-room-only crowd riveted with his discussion of the next generation of cars and customers of the not-so-distant future.

He opened with some Gen Y facts: Their spending power is currently at 1.7 billion strong – they will soon the be the big spenders of our society with boomers/genXers spending winding down; at roughly 72 million, Gen Y is the most educated, diverse, tech-proficient, and soon-to-be largest American generation ever; they are not brand loyal, rather they are brand agnostic (brand doesn’t matter; what matters is peer reviews); and interestingly enough, 10% of Gen Y checks their smart phone every 10 minutes. By 2020, he noted Gen Y will be 50% of the population; by 2030, 75%. Welcome to your industry’s future customer.

With the audience processing all that data, Arfi gave them more on the state of vehicle design. Automated Driverless Vehicles are here now; apparently Google and Uber are building prototypes. By 2020 to 2030, he estimates “drivers” will be reading newspapers as their car drives them to work. 

In today’s vehicle, he notes that the technology is already evident: 360º Cameras, 360º sensors, and adaptive cruise control with lane departure assistant technology opens a new set of parts categories in yard management software.

A significant number of U.S. vehicles -- about 12.1 million between 2013-2018 -- are coming equipped with tele-diagnostics, “OE Gateway Technology.” This reports diagnostic details of an accident or mechanical failure to manufacturers and/or repair shops before the car owner calls for a repair appointment. Welcome to your industry’s future inventory.

Arfi concluded that in the U.S., most adults own two devices that are connected to the Internet. Anyone over 2-years-old is on the Internet. He strongly suggested, “Have a mobile strategy!” There are 800,000 “car parts” searches monthly. Do what you need to capture that business: accuracy of part description, images, data details, all equals a sale. Watch for “new” parts categories to appear to take advantage of profits.

Ahoy Matey

ARA’s Convention and Event Planner Kim Glasscock says, “The upbeat attitude and camaraderie shared among recyclers was evident throughout the week. Many commented on how they enjoyed the ‘family atmosphere’ of the event. Even in a tough market, the ARA family comes together and shares ideas, reinforces business practices, and provides the continuing education and network support necessary to survive.”

There is no rest – the conclusion of one convention is the start of another. “The Inner Harbor of Baltimore will be an exciting city for ARA to visit October 26-29, 2016,” says Steve Holland, Brandon Auto Services, Inc., and ARA Events Advisory Committee Chair. “Attendees will experience an area that they are really going to enjoy. We have plans for some outstanding speakers, seminar topics, vendor exhibition, and off-site activities. Make plans now to come learn and build relationships for the future.”

“Baltimore brings us to the Northeast – where, as an organization, we haven’t been before,” Glasscock comments. “The Inner Harbor is beautiful with plenty to do and see within walking distance. The hotels and convention center will be conducive to incredible networking and great educational sessions.”

Check out to see the sights like the National Aquarium, the award-winning crab cakes of Phillips Seafood restaurant, and the history of Fort McHenry, B&O Railroad Museum, Seton House, Mount Vernon, Charles Street, and more.

Check regularly for updated details.

Caryn Smith is the editor of Automotive Recycling magazine.

The ARA Annual Awards Dinner and Gavel Passing Ceremony is a time when attendees come together to honor ARA Members who have impacted the industry through their excellence and service to the industry. Awards were presented to the following:

Outgoing Regional Directors’ Plaques
Paul Davis, Terry Stenglein, Martin Bright, Lawrie Beacham

Outgoing Committee Chair
Martin Bright, Regional Directors

Star Awards
ARA Member of the Year
Shannon Nordstrom, Nordstrom’s Automotive, Inc.,
Garretson, SD

ARA Regional Director of the Year
Scott Robertson, Jr., Robertson's Auto Salvage, Inc.,
Wareham, MA

ARA Affiliate Chapter of the Year
Auto and Truck Recyclers Association of New Hampshire

ARA CAR Member of the Year
Carcone’s Auto Recycling, Aurora, ON Canada

President’s Award
Bill Tolpa, Tolpa's Auto Parts, Remsen, NY

Lifetime Honorary Members
Gary Beagell, Gary’s U-Pull-It, Inc., Binghamton, NY
Paul Davis, A-Plus Parts & Salvage, Inc., Wichita, KS

Outgoing President
Ricky Young, Young’s Auto Center & Salvage/Car Crushers,
Benson, NC

Incoming President
Mike Swift, Swift’s Trails End Auto Recycling, Des Moines, IA

Facility Tour
Matlock’s Used Cars & Parts, Inc., Cleveland, NC

Scholarship Foundation Plaques Awarded to the Families of:
    Mark Buessing, Memorial Scholarship
    Randy Reitman, Memorial Scholarship
    Billy Standridge, Memorial Scholarship

Educational Foundation Award
    Billy Roberts, Roberts Salvage, Moffett, OK

ARA Educational Foundation Apple Award
    Roger Schroder, Foreign Auto Salvage, Ft. Wright, KY
    Jeff Kantor (posthumous)

Click to download the full January-February 2016 issue in PDF format

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