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Search Salvage Yards for Auto Parts
Search Salvage Yards for Auto Parts

Heart of the Industry: ARA Volunteer Leader Profiles

What makes the ARA stronger than ever are the dedicated volunteers who serve the Association in time and talents. To get to know them, this month we’ll hear from an engineer diverted into auto recycling and a veteran-generational recycler Regional Director.

Meet Andy Latham

Managing Director, RecoAuto, Ltd.
Technical Advisory Committee Chairperson

Automotive Recycling: Please tell us how you entered the Automotive Recycling industry, how many years you have been doing it, and your favorite thing about the industry.
Andy Latham: Working for the leading motor insurer in the UK, I was asked to move into Bluecycle, their in-house salvage processing division. My immediate thought was, “I am an engineer, I’ve got this;” how wrong I was, as I very soon realized how much I had to learn about this industry and also how great the industry was. The personalities involved, the entrepreneur mentality, leadership and the pace of change, the industry has become part of my life and I love it.

AR: What is the biggest positive change in the industry and its workings that you have witnessed in your career?
Latham: When I started working with Bluecycle in 2001, we were at the forefront of changing the industry from physical auctions to internet auctions. We were so far ahead of the game that many other companies in the UK, having said that our new process wouldn’t work, were rapidly changing their processes and procedures two years later to catch up with the market we had created. These changes were very positive from a recyclers perspective, at the time, especially when you consider the number of hours, and thousands of gallons of fuel that have been saved since buyers don’t have to spend most of their week traveling to physical auctions. Add to that the additional time they have been able to spend on and in their businesses.

AR: What is the goal of your committee, and why should members and non-members take note of your activities?
Latham: The goal of the Technical Advisory Committee is to “enhance the capacity of all ARA members to identify the development of automotive technology, its impact on automotive recycling and provide research and training.  The committee has the ability to assist auto recyclers across the world in an era where vehicle technology is changing faster than ever ­– as a committee we are there to help recyclers now and also help them to plan for the future by highlighting the future technological advances in vehicles and how that may impact their business. This includes the repair of salvage, resale of certain safety related parts, the disposal of waste, hazardous items, and more ­– there will be more on this at the 74th Annual ARA Convention.

AR: What is the one thing you hope the industry does to help itself succeed as a collective industry and individual auto recyclers?
Latham: Vehicle ownership and use is global, and this is reflected in the vehicle salvage and recycling industry. We need more than ever to be united across the globe as professional vehicle recyclers and work together to eradicate illegal, unlicensed and unsafe vehicle recyclers. Collectively the national industry associations need to work together to put that message across. Individual automotive recyclers need to actively support and be involved with their local or national association by being fully paid-up members, by being involved in the running of the organization or on a committee, and helping them to lobby local and national governments for actions that benefit the professional vehicle recycler and help to eradicate unlicensed and illegal operators.

AR: How can one get involved in your efforts to make the most impact for your agenda items?
Latham: I would love to have a database of specialists to call upon from time to time who can help and support the committee on specific items and issues –this may be vehicle manufacturer specific (Ford, GM, Porsche etc.) or technology specific (Electric and Hybrid, Fuel Cells, Ultra High Strength Steel etc.).  The committee is made up of technical experts and volunteer members who welcome any technical questions that ARA members have. The committee meets bi-monthly for a one-hour conference call, and in person at the ARA Convention annually. Also anyone who wants to become part of the committee can contact me by email at andy.latham@recoauto.com.

 Meet Jason Fisher
President, J & R Truck Parts
Regional Director, North

Automotive Recycling: Please tell us how you entered the Automotive Recycling industry, how many years you have been doing it, and your favorite thing about the industry.
Jason Fisher: I have been in this industry since I was 8 years old when my father and grandfather first bought the facility back in 1982. I’m 43 now, so that’s a long time. I left home and went away to school and returned full-time in 1993. I’ve been full-time for the last 24 years, but 35 years total in the industry.  I started out at 8 driving a 1970 chevy pickup, 3-speed on the “tree,” picking up tires in the yard for .50 cents an hour. To a kid making a paycheck each week in the summer, that was great money! My early start taught me drive, motivation, self-satisfaction and my eventual love for this industry! I am very passionate about it, and work daily to better it not only for myself and the future generation, but those who are currently in the industry.

As President of the Automotive Recyclers of Michigan (ARM), as well as the newly-appointed Regional Director for ARA’s North region, I am afforded the opportunity to talk with so many different people in this industry, as well as visit their facilities, in the hopes of making each of us better. I am a firm believer in “if you want change… you have to make change.”

AR: What is the biggest positive change in the industry and its workings that you have witnessed in your career?
Fisher: Coming from being a young kid picking up tires in the yard, to graduating to production, then on to sales, then into management, and now into ownership for the last ten years, I’ve seen so many positive changes to the industry. But I think the single biggest change I have seen for the betterment of our industry is definitely the networking opportunities that are available to us today.

We have managed to take the world and put it at our fingertips with the stroke of a key. The world, as far as getting our parts out into it, doesn’t seem to be near as big or as impossible to navigate anymore. We don’t compete; we join forces together today, to continually put a better product in the hands of our customers. The internet has definitely brought our industry into the 21st century and allowed us to get away from the “junkyard” (I hate that word!) imagery and mentality, and allow us to showcase our facilities as “State of the Art Recycling Facilities.”

AR: What is your personal goal of being a Regional Director, and why should members and non-members take note of your activities?
Fisher: I want to maintain a very open door policy, in hopes of any fellow recycler in the North region and beyond for that matter, would feel comfortable in contacting me with any issues they may have pertaining to our industry. As far as a goal? I have a very high interest level in the continuing efforts of ARA to secure the OEM data from the manufacturers. This in my mind has the potential to be the single biggest game changer in our industry since the advent of the computer and internet. It would be huge for our industry to “speak the same language” as the OEMs and the rest of the world. It would also open up a larger database of interchangeable parts for us to be able to sell in this ever changing and competitive industry.

AR: How can one get involved in your efforts to make the most impact for the industry?
Fisher: The more the merrier. I feel it is so important for the millennials to get more involved within our industry. The industry’s future will largely depend on their contributions at the state level as well as the national level associations. Just as our fathers and grandfathers relied on us to usher in the next wave of fresh ideas and management practices, we need the millennials to do the same. I would strongly encourage anyone with an ounce of interest to contact your state association, as well was the offices of ARA. Together we will all be successful in this ever changing industry. If we try and stand-alone … failure is soon to follow.