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Heart of the Industry

With a leadership style that registers high on the spectrum of positivity, team-minded and mission-driven veteran auto recycler David Gold steps into the role as 2017-18 President of ARA with high hopes for the industry and big expectations for the Association.

Each year, the Automotive Recyclers Association goes through an annual transition with the passing of the gavel from one outgoing president to an incoming leader. To ensure continuity, this volunteer service begins with three years on the executive committee, serving as secretary, second vice president/treasurer and first vice president before taking on the role of president. The term as president is followed up with a one-year advisory role as immediate past president.

This year’s immediate past president R.D. Hopper welcomed David Gold as the association’s new leader, along with Scott Robertson, as the new secretary (November-December 2017). Gold is quick to acknowledge that leading the association is a group effort. “We have really worked to create a united executive committee,” he says. “As a team, we want to work with ARA staff. We want to hear from the membership on how ARA can be better and more united, really united.”

“I am passionate about inclusivity. There are so many bright people out there. Our goal is to bring people to the table through conference calls and state meetings to participate in shaping our direction.” He urged the members to contact an executive committee member and share with them your thoughts on what matters to you. “The biggest threat to our association is non-engaged members.”

Shaped by the Business
Gold, a family man with a supportive wife, Rachel, and two young daughters Marni, 11, and Jessica, 10, is a career automotive recycler, who grew up in his family’s business, Standard Auto Wreckers, Ontario, Canada (see President’s Message November-December 2017). He says it was his only career he considered after college, despite valiant efforts of his mother.

His father, Ken, was active in the Association and always encouraged David to be as well. “My dad had very strong opinions,” Gold says, “but I believe he was right and they shaped my thinking. He gave a speech in a convention session in 2005 calling for the industry to rise to the occasion and collaborate, among other things. His words inspired me to be the leader I am today.”

Today, Gold handles media relations for the Fenix Parts Inc., a company for which Standard Auto Wreckers is a founding member company. In January 2014, eight automotive recycling companies joined to create a network that offers recycled auto parts sales, fulfillment and distribution in key regional markets in the United States and Canada. The Fenix member companies have been in business an average of more than 25 years and currently operate from 16 locations throughout the eastern U.S. and Ontario, Canada.

“The Fenix group has tremendous participating facilities, some who were established by ARA past presidents – beautiful yards,” says Gold. This newer role affords him time to dedicate to his ARA duties, “At this time, I am working fully on ARA initiatives. I acknowledge what I owe the association. I attended every ARA annual convention, read every issue of Automotive Recycling magazine, and got involved in ARA committees. I want the best things for the association, and will fight and lobby for what we do as an industry.”

Moving Forward
The executive committee has set big goals, says Gold. And because they are unified in those goals, they won’t vary much in the next several years. The team set objectives that they all agreed to and will work towards in their own ways over their respective terms. “What we do as an industry is tremendous, the use of recycled auto components makes sense,” says Gold. “We must create a strong and secure future for our employees and serve our customers with best practices. We have to eradicate the ‘not in my back yard’ auto recycling mentality.”

“We need the member’s voice to be successful. I am consistently setting up phone calls with past presidents, committee chairs, members… We want to hear from all of them. Our association achievements should, in some fundamental aspect, improve the lives of the membership.”

One of the biggest goals set by the team has to do with numbers.

“We want to double the ARA membership. That is a big goal, but we believe it is doable. There are shrinking numbers of recycler facilities, yes, but in reality, there are some members of state associations that are not members of the ARA. We hope to start there. We desire to have an engaged international membership that is growing.”

For Gold, this includes the vendors and consultants who serve the industry. “We value the people and companies that spend time, energy and resources to serve our industry. They are appreciated.”

One idea to accomplish this is to take the Recyclers Roundtable to a handful of town hall meetings. They will most likely occur at state association meetings. The forums provide information to get their attention, according to Gold, as not everyone attended the ARA convention Roundtable. “The topics presented are a great place to start conversations on a grass roots level. We want to all be on the same page and create continuity.”

This is also the mission within the current executive committee. “There are no bad ideas among us – we listen, learn, confront, talk about them. We are just volunteers, we all want to do the right thing, represent entire association. We are sharing ideas on weekly calls, and every idea is considered.”

“There are outsiders doing things to damage our industry,” he says, “ and they are also trying to pit us against ourselves. We need new ideas. We need to protect the integrity of auto recyclers. There is a lot of good we do and a lot of issues that are confusing that we need to figure out. To renew our image, the new ARA Marketing Campaign (see article on page 38) is a good place to start to bring a positive message to the consumer.”

It is All What You Put Into It
Gold believes that it takes everyone to do his or her best to thrive. “Give a little and get a little. Give a lot and get a lot. The beauty of our association is that we do not have to worry about trade secrets; there is enough business for everyone. We encourage competition or programs that better the industry. We want open dialogue management systems, the lifeblood of our businesses, and convenient access to auctions. We need all of them to be the best possible to sell more parts and be more accurate.”

“With all the challenges we are facing, there is no better time than right now for initiatives that move the industry forward.” The executive committee is determined to make that their legacy, “and we feel we can,” says Gold. “We will figure out how to create ways to attract those that are not members. We will provide an outreach to them. We want to empower current members to bring in new members. We want to encourage business-building activity.”

“This is all I have ever done,” says Gold. “It’s been good to me. We all share a common interest to sell more parts, why wouldn’t we be united? I don’t like status quo. I am not expecting miracles, but I am expecting a lot – we as a team want a lot for the people, and to make the right impact.”

Caryn Smith is the editor of Automotive Recycling magazine and a writer covering the industry for over 20 years.