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HEART of the INDUSTRY

Lawrie Beacham
CEO, Jeeepart Recyclers Australia
Regional Director Asia/Pacific Region

The mission of the ARA Regional Directors is to advance the automotive recycling industry through involvement, advocacy and international communication and relationships. I was an ARA Regional Director to the Asia/Pacific region from 2001 to 2005, 2011 to 2105 and am now serving another term beginning this year. I am proud to represent automotive recyclers in this region for the ARA.

I have never done anything but work in this industry. In my early years in the late 1960s-early 1970s, I worked as a dismantler at Shepparton Auto Wreckers (SAW), in Shepparton, Australia, while in school. Then “Natio” (the draft in the National Service) came along. My long-term plan was to be a teacher, but I didn’t want to start college before my mandatory Natio service, so stayed on at SAW until I got the call to service.

While in the service, I found all my mates in Army seemed to crash their cars a lot. When they went on leave, I started buying their cars. Upon completing my Natio service in 1973, I started my own dismantling facility in Bendigo, called Club Auto Wreckers. However, the tax department didn’t like the name (“Clubs don’t pay tax,” they said), therefore I changed it to Epsom Auto Wreckers, which was located on Howard Street in Epsom. Later, we changed it to Car Part Recyclers when we moved to a new property on Station Street.

In early 80’s, I used to drive to Sydney to go to Auto Parts Recyclers Association of Australia (APRAA) meetings, sleeping in my truck because money was tight. Then, I started APRAA in our area of Victoria, and held our meetings at The Light Car Club of Australia buildings. My overall service on the APRAA board was from 1985-2002. In 1986, myself and Roger McKinnon ran the first APRAA conference. I volunteered in APRAA for many years in various roles including being the National President 1998-2000. During this time, we exerted a lot of effort to move the Australian dismantling industry forward, including an issue and negotiations with the Taxation Department evolved around the introduction of the GST (goods & services tax), that was resolved with an enormous amount of help from my accountant Debby Blackah, and where we as an industry finally got what we wanted.

In my career, when I include my time working in SAW while at school, I have been in the industry for over 50 years. Like many other recyclers, I worked 15 hours a day 7 days a week for 24 years. Finally in 1996, I attempted to semi-retire. But my love of the industry and the need to provide for my family meant, instead, that we launched a new business in 1997, Jeeepart Recyclers in Hervey Bay Queensland, which is a Jeep, Chrysler and Dodge specialist facility. Jeeepart Recyclers currently employ 15 full-time staff and one part- time staff member, across their 2 branches.

I am proud that we were one of the first to achieve the top five star status in the Auto Parts Recyclers Association of Australia National Accreditation program. The rating system grades auto recycling firms on the quality and correct description of used or after-market parts, business and staff presentation, staff training, complaint handling, warranty and refund policies, condition of sale, delivery, safety requirements and environmental aspects, although in recent times it has been allowed lapse.

Overall, my hope is that my sons, who work with my wife, Joy, and I, can emulate the values and standards we built this business on. If they get half as much the satisfaction of meeting and working with the wonderful people in this industry as I have, it will have all been worthwhile.

I truly believe the most positive advancement in the industry has been the availability of access to good, trustworthy and accurate software that is industry specific.

As an ARA Regional Director, all issues, incidents, opportunities, and challenges are the same whether they are local or international. We all need to be aware of these by involvement and then relaying to others so that we can act as a unified voice to meet the rising challenges of the day.