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Tackling Big Issues in the Big D

Relationships, idea sharing and innovative thinking are what will bring sustainability to the automotive recycling industry. Opportunities to work together will be plentiful at ARA’s 74th Annual Convention & Expo.

High level interaction is the hope for the largest gathering of automotive recyclers this year. ARA’s 74th Annual Convention & Expo is a literal industry think-tank with insightful thought-leaders in attendance. There are many opportunities for peer-to-peer discussions from the hallways to educational sessions to advance new ideas. How appropriate that these big-idea discussions take place in the host city of the “Big D” – Dallas, Texas – from November 1-4, 2017 at the Hyatt Regency in the heart of the downtown.

Comments Welcome Here
To increase dialogue between presenters and session attendees, convention attendees are being provided the option of a download-able App to use during specific sessions for live polling and question posing to presenters.

The addition of Self-Service Peer Groups to the session line-up allows for brainstorming on this specific business model on things such as what numbers are looked at and why, and the various KPI that self-service sites should be measuring.

Then, there is the totally interactive session Recyclers Roundtable: Tackling the Tough Issues moderated by fellow auto recyclers Scott Robertson and Shannon Nordstrom. Back by popular demand from last year, the discussion allows ARA members to tackle the issues facing the industry together, such as current industry barriers and ways that auto recyclers have turned those challenges into thriving opportunities.

As for last year’s successful session, “I think that we talked about subjects that affected everyone in the room. The discussions and interactions between each attendee (not all were recyclers) elevated every topic. The attendees seemed at ease during the seminar, often asking for the microphone to add their opinion,” says moderator Scott Robertson Jr., President of Robertson’s Auto Salvage, Inc., Wareham, MA. “The entire automobile industry from OEMs to end-of-life yards are evolving more now than in its entire history as an industry. If we are not soon part of the plan for change, we will either go out of business or will miss out on future profit centers for our industry.”

Robertson is expecting topics this year to range from controlling our own destiny with access to market data to run our operations; the value of ARA membership; changes in auto-related businesses in the future; ideas to grow business; to ultimately, what needs to be done to survive and thrive in the future.

To inspire change, Robertson is also leading an ARA working group focusing on an awareness campaign that will be launched at convention and, in effect, will help to elevate the industry’s brand management with hopes to shift your business into high gear. The new campaign is aimed at promoting the benefits of recycled parts use and new resources will be unveiled to help market and change the way consumers think about auto repair and recycled parts.

“We are preparing a unified message that will allow ARA members to promote our industry through social media, print, television, radio and billboard advertising,” says Robertson. “This session will reveal more about our goal to distribute branded material in a production-ready format that can easily be linked with the member’s business. We hope to have material that will benefit every member and budget, small yard to multiple-owned yards to state associations. Members just need to use it to spread the message.”

There are many chances to interact as ARA’s annual gathering boasts more than 20 Educational Sessions and two Keynote Sessions, ten Committee meetings (all are welcome), and the Annual Board & Membership Meeting, 12 hours of Exposition featuring over 100 exhibitors and the Past President’s Reception, a “Buckle & Shift” fashion show featuring a clothing line created from antique car upholstery and automotive accessories manufactured from 1953-1987, the annual LARA (Ladies of Automotive Recyclers Association) Breakfast and Annual Awards Dinner & Presidential Gavel Passing, plus fun-filled off-site events. The Convention culminates in high-gear with no slowing down, literally, at the AAA Texas 500 NASCAR Race at Texas Motor Speedway. But this story doesn’t end here.

Educated Perspective
Historian and educator Dr. David Lucsko serves up ARA’s notable keynote as author of Junkyards, Gearheads, and Rust: Salvaging the Automotive Past (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2016 – see our March-April 2017 issue for a full review) and The Business of Speed: The Hot Rod Industry in America, 1915-1990 (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2008). He will provide an outsiders perspective of the industry from the scholarly view, as Lucsko is an associate professor of history at Auburn University, whose research focuses on the history of the automobile, mainly manufacturers and users, particularly the viewpoint of automobile enthusiasts.

“In my research for the book,” says Lucsko, “nothing truly surprised me, but I can say with certainty that the number one thing that surprises my students, fellow academics, etc. is the fact that car enthusiasts actually love going into salvage yards, and are very supportive of the industry. In other words, there is an assumption out there that ‘everyone’ thinks salvage yards are an eyesore, necessary evil, etc., but of course for a lot of people (such as car enthusiasts), a Saturday spent in a salvage yard is a day well-spent. That surprises a lot of people.

“As for the love of cars and the salvage business,” he continues, “to me what’s interesting is the way the industry has to balance serving (a) those who truly love their cars (car enthusiasts, who often need obscure parts and thus need yards that maintain inventories far longer than normal) and (b) those who just need repair parts for current-model cars to keep them going. This tension between maintaining healthy inventory turnover (and thus steady profits), on the one hand, and maintaining the ability to help old-car enthusiasts — this helped make studying the industry so fascinating to me.”
Lucsko will be holding a book signing appearance in the ARA Expo Hall, as well.

Delving deep into another topic that requires educating is ARA’s CEO Michael E. Wilson, moderator of a session entitled Automotive Manufacturers Taking Detours on Safety and Circular Economy. Recent automaker attacks on recycled parts significantly backtrack on their previous safety and environmental stewardship commitments. Despite touting commitments to a “circular economy,” (simply put: recovering all products, components and materials at their highest utility and value) automakers are withholding important safety information and opposing the reutilization of their own parts.

The tech-influence on the industry is rising. Several sessions explore how auto recycling business models need to adapt to the changes in car technology.
The Safe Handling of High Voltage Electric and Hybrid Vehicle Components within the Global Vehicle Recycling Industry session concentrates on the growing global sales of electric and hybrid vehicles as emission legislation forces vehicle manufacturers to build cleaner vehicles, with some 8 million already in service. As the most complex systems ever used in the automotive field, and these vehicles reach the end of their lives, explore safe working businesses practices in completing battery disabling, removal, disassembly, storage and shipping. This includes understanding the legal restrictions on dismantling, storage and shipping of high voltage batteries around the world. Explore how detailed safety, dismantling, storage and shipping information is currently made available to the vehicle recycling community and how this can be improved in the future to enhance the safety of people handling these processes.

The Changes in the Collision Repair Industry and the Impact on Auto Recyclers’ presentation will look at the evolving collision repair industry supply chain, the Canadian collision parts marketplace trends, the CIECA BMS integration work, NSF Certifications, and synergies between auto recyclers and aftermarket distributors. Car-Part will discuss these trends and Car-Part’s EMS Pro marketplace and its integration with OEConnection, Mitchell, CCC, and AudaExplore and how those integrations impact auto recyclers.

Panelists from the Expanded Recycled Parts Marketplace – The Value-Added Proposition come from the insurance, collision repair and automotive recycling industries and will identify and discuss the opportunities to sell substantially more parts if certain parts are valued by insurers and collision repairers, making a compelling business case for our insurer and repairer partners.

How will Advanced Vehicle Technology Impact the Vehicle Recycling Industry, and How will Professional Automotive Recyclers Use it to Create Opportunities for Growth? This session examines the highly-advanced vehicle technology arriving at recyclers yard’s in the near future and the impact and opportunities it has on daily operations. It includes a look at high voltage electrical systems, Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS), and changes in vehicle structural design.

And on the sales front, the Counts duo, Robert and Chad, explore The Most Important Second in your day. They say that the difference between a quote, a sale or the customer hanging up often is a matter of 1 to 3 seconds. What you do in these critical moments can have a multiplying effect on your sales and your paycheck. This practical session will motivate you to train your frontline team to not waste those moments in their sales efforts.

The ARA Expo-extravaganza
The ARA Expo is the largest single gathering of vendors who provide valuable services and products to the automotive recycling industry. Without them, how could you work through best practices, time savers and general work day dilemmas? Just wondering…

The ARA Exposition is your best opportunity to build strong relationships with new and existing suppliers, experience new product innovations and learn state-of-the-art technologies. Vendors come just to meet attendees, and share their newest offerings.

“Dorman Products has been exhibiting at ARA for decades,” says Joe Wright, “and we are proud to support the member yards with high quality aftermarket parts including our new Dodge Hemi Intake Manifolds.”

“We value our participation in the ARA show because it helps business owners see how committed all of us exhibitors are to the success of their business,” says Dimitri Gerontis, Principal, Crush/S3 Solutions. “And we are all part of one great community of hard working and honest people.”
Your chance to meet with your current and potential providers include: Thursday, Nov. 2, 5pm – 9pm; Friday, Nov. 3, 12:30pm – 5pm; and Saturday, Nov. 4, 8:30am – Noon.

Being There, Doing That
Dallas has many offerings as a host city, which we have detailed in the last two issues of Automotive Recycling magazine (should you want to take a look back at the city’s offerings). The city offers shopping and sports to arts, culture and southwestern cuisine, there’s something here for everyone as the number one visitor destination in Texas.

To plan your stay, check out the website to take a day or two before or after trip in the great state of Texas!  The host hotel for the convention is the Hyatt Regency Dallas located at 300 Reunion Blvd., Dallas, TX 75207, and phone (214) 651-1234. ARA has negotiated a room rate of $179 for single/double occupancy for all ARA convention delegates. The ARA room block closes on September 29, 2017. Indicate you are with the Automotive Recyclers Association Annual Meeting to receive our group rate.

Flying into Dallas offers you two options. Flights may be scheduled into DFW Airport (22 miles from hotel), where taxi fare is approximately $45 – $50 or Super Shuttle is approximately $14 per person, one way. Love Field (8 miles from hotel) – the taxi fare is approximately $20 – $25. Should you have a rental car, parking rates are as follows: $26 Valet; $19 Self-parking. Find more information on

Bringing the Industry Together
“Dallas is a great city for our Convention this year,” says Kim Glasscock, the meeting’s planner. “It’s a major hub for flights, convenient to most, besides being very fun with lots to offer Convention attendees.”

ARA’s CEO Michael Wilson agrees, “We hope the ARA membership views the high-level interactions, cutting-edge sessions and networking events as a significant value they cannot afford to miss. I believe that there is a synergy that is created when we all come together to shed light on issues and discuss seizing opportunities. I find it highly productive to hear the collective thoughts of ARA members voiced at the Annual Convention, and the vibrant innovations shared on the Expo floor is always a testament that this industry has a dynamic future ahead.”

Caryn Smith is the editor of Automotive Recycling magazine.