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Heart of the Industry: ARA Volunteer Leader Profiles

The Automotive Recyclers Association (ARA) is led by a skillful and knowledgeable team at the home office, which includes people with expertise from many areas. The team is hard working for the members every day, to advance the initiatives of the Association. But what makes the ARA stronger than ever are the dedicated volunteers who serve on committees, advisory boards, and the executive committee, and those who participate in conference calls, attend the Hill Day and mid-year meetings, annual convention and more. These leaders set the agenda and goals for the Association’s home office staff to effect change. They provide valuable insight that is rooted in “boots on the ground” experience and leads to decision-making and progress. Without volunteer leaders, the ARA would not be successful.

This regular feature will introduce our volunteer leaders to you to inspire you to make a difference in your industry too, if you feel led, and to show the united force at work in the larger scope of things. This month we’ll hear from a steady force in the Association through the years, and a lightning leader rising to the new challenge of making the industry better for all.

Meet Norm Wright, Owner
Stadium Auto Parts
Government Affairs Committee Chairperson

Automotive Recycling: Please give us a brief story about how you entered the Automotive Recycling industry, how many years you have been doing it, and what is your favorite thing about the industry you love.

Norm Wright: My father started the Company in 1945 after purchasing Carl’s Auto Parts in Denver. The original site was three-quarters of an acre. He changed the name to Stadium Auto Parts when Bear Stadium, later Mile High Stadium, was built one block from the site. I had worked at the facility growing up. I attended the University of Colorado and graduated with an accounting degree. After a short career in accounting my father called and asked if I might be interested in the business. He was retiring and had rented the facility to a dune buggy manufacturer who cancelled the lease one month before it’s starting date.

On May 3, 1971, I set up a corporation issuing my dad stock for what was remaining at the site and took the same lease that was cancelled. I began my career as an auto recycler with one salvage vehicle in the yard, a 1947 Ford boom truck needing an engine, and lots of empty shelves to fill.

I have always loved being in the industry because it continues to change and all the inherent challenges. Interacting with both our employees and our wonderful customers gives me the satisfaction of helping people solve their problems. It is the only industry I know of that competitors share their insights and ideas with each other to make each better.

AR: What is the biggest positive change in the industry that you have witnessed in your career?

Wright: The biggest positive change in our industry is the advancement of technology into the business. We began by memorizing our inventory, went to a manual card system, which eventually evolved into the complex computer systems we now use. The industry now sells our parts on web sites, parts search engines, EBay, and numerous other electronic media world wide.

AR: What is the goal of your committee and why should members and non-members take note of your activities?

Wright: The Government Affairs Committee’s goal is first to be the watch dog for legislation and regulations for our industry, both on a national and local level. Once issues are identified, we try to stay involved to protect our members and the industry. The Committee also identifies and formulates positions for the use of our members in dealing with the legislative and regulatory areas. ARA, along with our affiliates, are the only groups that care about what affects our industry internationally as well as locally. I have always maintained that if you are not at the table you probably will be on the menu!

AR: What is the one thing you hope the industry does to help itself succeed as a collective industry and individual auto recyclers?

Wright: Our industry depends on accurate information in selling our parts to our customers. If we could acquire the critical information we require from the manufacturer’s, we could be assured we are selling the correct and safe part. This would ensure our success.

AR: How can one get involved in your efforts to make the most impact for your agenda items?

Wright: ARA is extremely active on the political front, reaching out to our representatives to help us pass legislation and regulations that affect our industry. Every recycler is represented in Congress and their local legislative bodies. We first ask each member to identify any proposed legislation or changes in regulations. The member can then work with ARA to have influence in what may affect their business. We need people to get involved with their local representatives who are making decisions. Together we can protect each of our businesses and families. Everyone working together can make a huge difference.

Meet Amanda Matlock, HR Manager
Matlock’s Used Cars and Parts Inc.
Gold Seal Committee Chairperson

Automotive Recycling: Please give us a brief story about how you entered the Automotive Recycling industry, how many years you have been doing it, and what is your favorite thing about the industry you love.

Amanda Matlock: I am a third generation Auto Recycler. I have been involved since college and full time for the past two years since graduation. One of my favorite things about the industry is the fact that you get to have friendly relationships with many of your “competitors.”

AR: Why do you believe certification an answer or proponent of change and professionalism for the industry?

Matlock: We are a group of committed individuals adhering to progressive Gold Seal and CAR standards which offer a professional stance against the OEs. It is an important way to increase the professional image of the industry.

AR: What is the mission of your committee, and why should members and non-members take note of your activities and get involved in them by volunteering or by getting certified?

Matlock: Members should get involved because it is not only a way to advertise your business but it is, also, a way to network and learn how to make your business better.

AR: What is the one thing you hope the industry does to help itself succeed as a collective industry and individual auto recyclers?

Matlock: I really just hope we can win the efforts to get all VIN and Build Sheet data. It is critical.

AR: What do you think an automotive recycling facility or the industry overall will look like in 10 years?

Matlock: I think it will be a lot more high tech. Our prep areas will not only have the tools for washing parts, but also for fixing some damage. There is a chance we will be unlocking computerized parts. Our management systems will look completely different with one click reporting, quick ways to see the status of the part, even the status with customers, areas for just completing online orders because I believe phones will start becoming obsolete.

All of these things will cost a good deal of time and money. However, now is the time to start running with the changes because if not I am concerned that our industry numbers could greatly drop. I know cashflow is an issue for some, but if you have not been to ARA meetings or the expo, worked on your business’ certifications, or invested in the ARA Political Action Committee fund, I encourage all to do so. You have to spend money to make money just like you have to buy more inventory to sell more parts.