Compiled by Caryn Smith
Making the Grade
Meet Roger Schroder Car-Part.com/Foreign Auto Salvage
Ft. Wright, Kentucky
President, ARA Educational Foundation
While in college, I worked in construction and helped my brother Urban, who had a body shop and who rebuilt “totals.” After I graduated from college in 1976, I continued to help rebuild totals so I could always have a nicer car than I could otherwise afford! It is gratifying to build something nice out of a parts car, and this job afforded me the opportunity to drive many different vehicles. Cars quickly became both my hobby and my vice!
Because of our love for cars and our appreciation for making something valuable out of what others considered “junk,” my brother and I purchased a local auto recycling business in 1986: Foreign Auto Salvage in Fort Wright, Kentucky. I quit my job where I spent 10 years as a special agent with the Treasury Department, and together we took over Foreign Auto Salvage and immediately relocated it. We continued to rebuild totals and do body repairs, but our parts business grew rapidly. It soon became our primary source of revenue and our main focus of time. At one point, we kept as many as 3,500 parts cars in our main lot/warehouse and we were rebuilding a total a week (along with some outside repair jobs). In 1996, our brother Jeff started developing software for Car-Part.com. Two years later, Jeff, his wife Janice, Urban, and myself pushed Car-Part.com live online with recycled parts searches on the internet. Around the year 2000, we decided to scale back the body repair/rebuilding significantly, to make more time for Car-Part.com. Both Foreign Auto Salvage and Car-Part.com started as family businesses; all of our children and spouses have worked for at one or both at one point. We still maintain Foreign Auto Salvage, but have scaled back operations so most of our time can be spent on Car-Part.com. I am still very involved in the buying, pricing, and business planning for Foreign Auto Salvage, but am otherwise involved only a small portion of the other day-to-day operations.
What is the biggest positive change in the industry and its workings that you have witnessed in your career?
The biggest positive change that I have noticed during my time in this industry is the increased pride people have in ownership, and their willingness to reinvest money back into their businesses and facilities to create a better image. As part of that change, recyclers now care more about customer satisfaction than they might have many years ago. Modern recyclers have changed many perceptions of our industry (although we can’t change everyone’s mind) and this has helped widen our customer base. There is now a larger spectrum of the types of customers who want recycled parts.
With margins being slimmer than they were many years ago, the use of data for requests and sales has also changed. The bar has been raised for auto recyclers, and I think that has resulted in a significant improvement in our products and reputation. The customer experience is now much better than it was 35 years ago.
What is your goal as a President of the Educational Foundation, and why should members and non-members take note of your activities?
One of my main goals as President of the Educational Foundation is to offer help to recyclers through training with ARA University. With training, recyclers can remain compliant and offer safe work environments to their employees. Another goal is to educate recyclers on the value of ARA Parts Grading and Standards. Additionally, we must educate consumers on these standards so they have the proper expectations when purchasing a recycled part. This results in a positive buyer experience, and I believe this is one of the best ways to increase sales for the industry.
What is the one thing you hope the industry does to help itself succeed as a collective industry and individual auto recyclers?
We must try to be consistent in the products we deliver, and make sure the public is aware of the services we do for the world – saving people money on repairs, recycling materials, cutting down the waste in landfills, and properly disposing of harmful fluids/materials in our dismantling processes. We must also keep our own knowledge current on assembly components and part grading, so that we have answers when our customers have questions, and they know what to expect when they buy our parts.
How can one get involved in your efforts to make the most impact for your efforts?
Every recycler can get involved by making sure they are grading their parts and selling assemblies consistent to the industry standards. Present a good image with your products and facilities. You can also help promote recycled parts in general through your marketing efforts, and when possible communicate that our industry is helping the environment. If you have time, join one of the many committees to help foster ARA or your local association. Provide input when an association asks about the direction you feel they should be moving – a variety of opinions can add better insight and a more cohesive view of the values, opinions, and priorities of the people in our industry.
Editor’s Note: The 75th Annual ARA Convention & Expo holds a fundraiser each year. This year it benefits the ARA Educational Foundation. Please consider giving to this worthy fund, as its impact is significant to the industry in furthering the career path of each student it serves. The Foundation has recently launched the AR Career Zone (www.araef.org) as a way to recruit and bring employment to worthy candidates for the industry.
Meet Dalbert (Dally Livingstone)
Island Auto Supply, Winsloe, PEI, CanadaRegional Director – Canada
I was recruited into the business by my grandparents in 2002, fresh out of the university. Island Auto Supply (www.islandautosupply.com) is proud to be PEI’s largest supplier of used and aftermarket auto and truck parts and automotive replacement parts. We have served the auto parts industry for over 30 years.
I worked in various departments from tow truck operator to dismantling to the sales counter. I had grown up around the business as a kid, including rebuilding a few cars, and just enjoyed the shop atmosphere. After about eight years, my wife who then managed a restaurant was also recruited and a succession plan was formed. We bought the business in 2013 and have been trying to keep our family’s legacy going ever since.
I’ve volunteered for a few leadership roles during my career. In 2011, I became vice president to our local association, Automotive Recyclers Association of Atlantic Canada (ARAAC), and around 2013 became president. I’ve been involved with our board in some way or form ever since. In 2017, I was elected to serve as an Atlantic Canadian representative on the Auto Recyclers of Canada Board (ARC), and I volunteered for ARA Regional Director in 2017.
The biggest positive change I’ve seen in the industry since 2002 is technology. As a sales guy, our orders were all printed on paper and given to the yard guys to remove. Now they are done electronically over smart phones and tablets. For hard parts we used to manually flip through those old Hollander interchange books and compare part numbers and images. Now these diagrams populate 3D with the click of a mouse. The same philosophy applies in other aspects; all our cars are imaged, and specific part types have an image of that part flagged directly to it. When I look back to 2005, I see that these additions have taken us so far.
My goal as Regional Director is to influence the ARA to adopt a policy where all its members have to be environmentally certified. It has worked really well in Canada, and I think it only has larger potential in the U.S. For our respective boards go to the OEMs or government agencies and say, ‘yes, all our members are independently audited to a higher standard’ really gives the association some clout. Maybe we can be heard more effectively on the national stage with that stat in our back pocket.
One thing I hope the industry does to help itself is to get a unified suggested price to list our parts. A 2015 Sierra door to be the same price at all recyclers (negotiable, of course) would stop the trend of racing to the bottom on our parts prices. We all compete to pay the most for the car, and we compete to sell the parts for the least. This business model is not sustainable and a standard listing price would help. There are other possibilities that come from this idea including a healthier markup for our body shop customers, which could increase recycled parts usage in a lot of repairs.
How can you get involved in my efforts? Get certified, get audited, and as a group of over 1,000 third party audited members, we will have a much more respected voice with OEMs, government, and the general public.