Automotive recycling facility tours took on a British twist for a group of recyclers from the United States who traveled across the pond to visit some of the UK’s finest facilities, while enjoying English hospitality along the way, and a chance to experience the Complete Auto Recycling (CARS) show. The group included Norman and Lezlie Wright, Stadium Auto Parts, former auto recyclers John and Donna Grigas, ARA Executive Director Sandy Blalock, Fran Reitman, Reitman Auto Parts, and Mary Mandel, Danny’s U Pull, LLC.
Meeting at Heathrow, auto recycler Terry Charlton and his family hosted the group, showing them the sites. They went punting on the River Cam, were wined and dined, visited the Imperial War Museum at Duxford and the American Cemetery just outside Cambridge and spent time in Cambridge before setting off on their tour of the UK, visiting vehicle recyclers, the CARS Show and some memorable locations over 600 miles, followed by another week of leisure in sunny, dry and warm England.
The first yard tour was at Charlton Recycled Auto Parts, in the countryside outside Cambridge, which specializes in 4×4 vehicles. Following a meet and greet with the whole Charlton’s team, owner Terry Charlton outlined the history of the business and his plans for the future. An area of particular interest was the original Land Rover recovery truck and their 1943 Ward La France M1A1 Heavy Wrecker on display.
The next facility, Autospares and Salvage just outside of Northamptonshire, brought comments that, “We have arrived at a salvage estate!” The impressive site is on a former railway station, with the original station building serving now as the owner’s home. It was a beautiful drive through the gardens leading down to the yard facility. Following lunch, Rob Austin and Julie Mitchell, son and daughter of the owner, provided a tour of the operation. They were able to see the original engine shed that has been re-purposed as a workshop, along with the vehicle storage, de-pollution, dismantling and destruction areas.
Overnight accommodations were arranged in the historic town of Kenilworth. That evening, a lively group of 26 recyclers from the UK and USA joined for an authentic pub meal at “The Famous Virgins and Castle.” This is the oldest pub in the county of Warwickshire, offering a great setting to enjoy ale and proper English pub food.
“Attending the CARS meeting was very interesting with 1,200 attendees,” says Lezlie Wright. “The layout of booths was divided into a scrap side and a parts side with large equipment demonstrations going on outside. The speakers were in a special area within the hall and used a headphone system so each person could easily hear the speaker without being disturbed by all the noise in the hall. I was proud to see almost the entire ARA Executive Committee present and feel we made a good showing from the U.S.”
“The CARS Event was an incredible event that would be like the ARA and ISRI holding a joint convention – the recyclers and scrap processors were both there,” says Chad Counselman, ARA’s Second Vice President/Treasurer. “We learned about laws, policies, and practices in Europe that help the recyclers. We are working now to find ways to bring some of these ideas to the U.S. The world is much smaller than many of us think that it is – we can learn from each other, no matter where your operation is located.”
Day two of CARS, the group returned for more seminars and skills lab before departing to Cadbury World, home of the Cadbury Egg, where the team enjoyed making, tasting and purchasing some of the best chocolate in the world.
The next day found the group on the south coast of England where they visited Charles Trent, owned by Marc, Neil and Jonathan Trent. A fourth generation recycler, Marc Trent gave the tour and outlined the immense investment they are putting into the business with the purchase of adjoining land, new buildings, new equipment, updated processes and many more ideas that will take this company to the next level of process and efficiency.
Then in the afternoon, after a trip across the New Forest where wild ponies, cattle and even deer run free, they arrived at Silverlake Automotive Recycling for a fish and chip lunch. Silverlake has developed considerably over the years from a small operation to a larger, very modern one, with offices, shop and tire bay, efficient and well-organized vehicle collection, storage, depollution and dismantling operations; and one of the few in the UK to have a U-Pull-It operation. Auto recycler Alan Prebble, owner, outlined the ongoing improvement and development work and showed everyone the drive and determination he has to improve efficiency, reduce costs and process vehicles.
Vehicle recyclers in the UK are very similar and also different to their colleagues in the U.S. Physical space in the UK is at a premium so vehicle storage goes up rather than out with everyone racking vehicles. Many recyclers are stripping different metals from the vehicle using mechanical equipment to speed up the process of separating aluminum and wiring from the vehicle. Every recycler that was visited has a vehicle baler that squashes the vehicle into a cube prior to moving them to metal processors. They are all very entrepreneurial with a drive to grow, develop and improve everything they do, find better ways, find efficiencies and enjoy their work.
“Getting to see four different facilities was great,” says Wright. “Each one was different and we had plenty of time to get a good visit in, see demonstrations of equipment, and ask questions. Norman noted that in the facilities we visited the priority was scrapping vehicles and selling builders rather than parts as we do.”
“What a fantastic adventure. The hospitality was superb,” says Sandy Blalock of their UK hosts. “Andy Latham, with help the first two days from Terry Charlton, were perfect hosts and went out of their way to accommodate all of our wishes,” added Wright.
“As tour guide and official driver, I would like to thank each and every member of the group for their fun, laughter, friendship and fellowship during the tour,” says Any Latham. “Also I’d like to thank Terry Charlton for looking after everyone at the start of the week, and to the teams at Charlton, Autospares and Salvage, Charles Trent and Silverlake for their welcome, friendship and hospitality.”
Andy Latham is Managing Director of Salvage Wire and Chair of the Technical Advisory Committee of the ARA. Andy’s desire is to highlight the professionalism in the vehicle recycling industry, increase knowledge and understanding, and keep everyone safe, ethical and profitable.