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Heart of the Industry

By Caryn Smith

Sage Advice

Two industry veterans never tire of serving the automotive recycling community they love.

Meet Ed MacDonald
President, Scholarship Education Foundation

 

 

Ed MacDonald is a name you probably recognize, as a Past President of ARA (2014-15) and regular attendee of global industry meetings and gatherings. In his current post-ARA executive committee role as President of the ARA Scholarship Foundation, MacDonald feels his volunteer service to the Foundation is as important as any other, maybe even more so. He is a firm believer in empowering the next generation to succeed – and not only succeed but to ignite change –especially those in this industry.

“Education is the keystone of any society and the more we contribute to the growth and educational development of our youth, the more successful we are as a society. For our ARA scholarships, of course, the funds come from generous automotive recyclers and associated businesses – our members and partners who have constantly and consistently contributed. But the beautiful part is the recipients are the industry’s family members, the bright and deserving youth whose parents work in our businesses, every day.”

The ARA Scholarship Foundation is a non-profit organization whose purpose is to promote education through the awarding of scholarships annually to students on the basis of academic achievement. The Automotive Recyclers Association maintains the Scholarship Foundation for the benefit of members and the professional automotive recycling industry (see page 52 for this year’s list of recipients).

MacDonald believes that more than just supporting our industry’s youth for their secondary and trade education, that one should think outside the box and educate them on our business, too. “Why not invite the youth of your staff to your facility and demonstrate to them the uniqueness of our industry and that we require a full spectrum of talented, educated people in many educational disciplines.”

MacDonald himself has received much and seen much in the industry he has served since first buying his business in Nova Scotia in 1987. “I’ve witnessed so much change. I believe that you cannot possibly identify only one item that has positively affected our industry,” says MacDonald. “We are fortunate to be composed of very resilient individuals who have reacted to even negative industry pressures over the years and, through determination and adaptability, create positive change. I would say conservatively that there are hundreds of very positive milestones and changes to our methods of operations. Kudos to each one of you who led the way – you know who you are and you are our foundation.”

“We have consistently reinvented ourselves over the decades, usually during adverse times. Many years ago we tentatively embraced technology with very basic information systems. Now technology is a critical mainstay of all the decisions of any progressive recycler. Time and again, we have been subjected to dire predictions of the demise of our industry and then along comes a dedicated and resilient group of progressive recyclers, like we have today, and their associations, who take up the challenge not only to preserve our livelihood, but advance the industry in a manner that has never previously been seen,” says MacDonald.

“This has an important historical context dating back to 1943. Our 75 year-old association ignited this generational tenacity as ARA’s entity [then, the Automotive Dismantlers & Recyclers Association] was established to protect the recyclers from government control during World War II. And, for that matter, even our family business, Maritime Auto Parts in Nova Scotia, now in the hands of my son Andrew, is over 85 years old. Let me clarify, not me, but our business!”

“When I was asked to serve on the Executive Committee and as President of ARA, for which I am very thankful for the honor, it was my belief that at that time was the ‘beginning of the end’ of my generation’s approach to auto recycling. While we served it well, and gave countless years to the challenges before us, our job was now to trust it to the generation that we, in fact, paved the way for the future.

“My President’s acceptance speech spoke of “Passing the Keys to the Kingdom’ to the next generation,” says MacDonald. “Rest assured, we have been successful in that we now have a new wave of leaders that will surely work hard to protect our industry and take on the challenges that are before them in their pursuit of their “brave new automotive recycling world.”

“I firmly believe that the biggest change to our industry is the realization that we exist in a global entity and the decisions that are made in other countries directly affect our industry. In mine and prior generations, we traded, locally, then regionally, then nationally. Now, it is internationally. We are constantly searching alternate markets to areas of the world that we didn’t know about or didn’t exist before.”

As for industry inner workings, MacDonald believes in taking the bird’s eye view. “North America automotive recycling is principally based on the sale of parts. Over the years, I had opportunities to witness how European, Asian and other countries had a vastly different model than in North America, i.e. the United States and Canada. I found all models have opportunity for the continuation and growth of our industry. Yet, I believe that we are well along the path to a blending of the different approaches to automotive recycling, which is a wonderful thing.”

Lastly, in service to the industry, MacDonald would encourage anyone, no matter what generation, to use their voice. “We should never give up this passionate pursuit. We are the true environmentalists and probably recycle more as an Association, collectively, than some of our major cities. Get involved. You have the talent and we have an area that would allow you to feel that you have something to contribute, on another level. Associations exist for your benefit … but nothing happens without your participation and input.”

 

Meet Becky Berube
President United Catalyst Corporation Co-Chair, Events Advisory Committee

Becky Berube is President of United Catalyst Corporation in Greenville, South Carolina.

She first became inv olved in the industry through her husband, Tim, who was working in converter recycling while pursuing a degree in architecture. “We were newlyweds and I was a portfolio accountant for Putnam Investments in Boston, MA. As Tim launched a small recycling company, I researched the recycling and refining supply chain, and eventually joined him in the company.”

While Berube may have not initially sought after a job in our industry, there is one big reason that keeps her loving the industry. The people.

“If I could spend every day of my career visiting facilities, I would,” she says. “Being with recyclers gives me energy. Until you become fully immersed in your field and understand the issues that affect your customers, you cannot fully serve or return value to them. You must help others achieve their goals while achieving yours.”

As an ARA member, Berube has given much of her time back, as a volunteer. “I have the privilege of serving with Steve Holland as the co-chair of the ARA Events Advisory Committee, where we plan the annual convention and trade show with a dynamic team of recyclers and associate members.

“Our goal as the ARA Events Advisory Committee is to create automotive recycling’s most important annual convention and trade show. Our conference’s recycling roundtable (see story on page 36) and peer-to-peer profit panels, in addition to its powerful attention to access of recall data, are unrivaled, and the networking opportunity unmatched. For 75 years, automotive recycling has been making history at this convention and trade show. The convention is our past, our present, and our future.”

At the same time, Berube also serves on the Executive Committee of the International Precious Metals Institute Board of Directors. “It’s unique to serve in leadership between associations that represent producers and consumers of precious metals. In my day job, I serve our industry as president of United Catalyst Corporation where our company gets to build a bridge and create value between the world’s largest chemical refining companies and the recycling companies that produce the spent catalyst.”

During her 25 years in our industry, Becky has seen many changes. She says, “The biggest positive change that I have witnessed in the industry during my career is the level of professionalism and sophistication with which recyclers now run their companies. For many years in converter recycling, recyclers preferred to take cash for the converters or sell on grade at a deep discount regardless of the loss to their bottom line and impact on their business valuation. Today, we are fortunate to work with very successful and educated recycling companies that understand our business philosophy that they can sell converters for more money on the assay or refining model and we are pleased to be partnering with them.”

Berube believes the success of our industry is based on collective efforts by all of us. “Together, we are powerful,” says Berube. “Automobiles are reported to be the most recycled consumer product in the world. Collectively, as an industry, we own the world’s largest source of the critical materials we produce. We need to leverage the sale of these materials, forming powerful alliances that benefit the industry collectively and auto recyclers individually. Our friends at ISRI have done this very well and I know we can do the same.”

When asked how individuals can get involved and how they can see the biggest impact from their efforts, Berube says, “Don’t sit on the sidelines. Attend industry events. Join professional networking groups for automotive recycling on Facebook and other social media outlets. Help standardize the industry by participating in the ARA’s CAR and Gold Seal programs. Use the new ARA Marketing Campaign, Choose Recycled Parts. Speak to the ARA committees about issues that are important to you and become part of the conversation. If you want to create value for your company and for our industry, get involved. Partner with companies that educate you and commit to bringing you and our industry more value.”