Scott Robertson joins the ARA Executive Committee as Secretary with a vision for industry sustainability: One for all and all for one!
Interview by Caryn Smith
Scott Robertson is a man on the move for the benefit of the industry. As a recycler growing up in the family business and now as President of Robertson’s Auto Salvage, Wareham, Mass., Scott has a clear vision of how things should be in the industry. He is bringing that to the Executive Committee as incoming Secretary for 2017-18.
Robertson’s, a family-owned and operated 24-acre salvage yard started in 1970, has survived and prospered through multiple recessions, oil and gas crisis, the Clean Water Act and other legislation, depressed scrap prices, and more. Founded by Scott’s father, uncle – both whom still are involved in the business – and grandfather, who passed away in the late 1980s, Robertson’s is a lesson in sustainability. Being a family operation, Scott’s brother David is also in the business managing operations.
Originally established to supply parts to the family’s gas and repair station in Boston, Robertson’s transitioned totally to the salvage business when the oil company reclaimed ownership of the gas station. Over the 48 years, Robertson’s has sold repairable wrecks; established, participated in, and eventually closed a salvage pool; launched a GMC dealership that continues today and opened and subsequently closed two additional salvage yards. They currently supply repair shops, body shops, insurance companies and other wholesale customers in New England and nationally.
Robertson’s has maintained its ARA membership for four decades and is a CAR and Gold Seal facility. Many industry long-timers may recall his father and uncle as ARA movers and shakers in the 1980s.
Continuing the family tradition of industry involvement, Scott is following suit. He has served on the Board of Directors of the Automotive Recyclers of Massachusetts (ARM) for 10 years and is a member of the Hollander Strategic Advisory Council. He just finished a three-year term as a regional director, serving also as the Chair of the committee. He received the “Regional Director of the Year” from ARA at the recent 74th Annual Convention & Expo, as well.
It was also announced at the convention that Robertson would be the newest member of the association’s Executive Committee, joining David Gold, President; Jonathan Morrow, First Vice President; and, Chad Counselman, second vice president.
Also announced at the ARA 74th Annual Convention & Expo is a new ARA initiative project, “Choose Recycled Parts,” that he masterminded within the ARM, with the help of marketing experts. This effort provides professional auto recyclers with print and radio advertising and marketing advertisements aimed to educate millennials, the soccer mom, and others about the choice of recycled parts in their repair. (Visit ChooseRecycledParts.com for more on that effort.) In an effort to learn more about what motivates Scott, we asked him about his efforts.
Automotive Recycling magazine: What inspired the creation of “Choose Recycled Parts” media campaign?
Robertson: We do our share of advertising and marketing our individual yards, but it was easy to see our industry has an identity problem that needed to be addressed with the public perception. Even my friends don’t even understand what I do. We felt it was time to address it with a campaign, and initiated a committee of recyclers and marketing pros to mastermind this campaign, the first of many we hope. The materials are free to auto recyclers and can be customized with their contact information.
AR: You are coming into the Executive Committee with some ideas. What is your overall goal? What is the one thing you hope the industry does to help itself succeed as a collective industry and individual auto recyclers?
Robertson: I believe it is time for everybody to join forces. It is US verses THEM, with them being the OEMs or anyone trying to suppress our industry. US of course is all professional automotive recyclers and support companies. We all need to share ideas, share data and help each other. If we don’t do that, and the OEMs had their way, we wouldn’t be selling used parts.
In the future, we need to partner with the OEMs. There are 300 million cars to process out there and it will take time to process them. Over time, our working models will change and we will change with the demand. We will continue to process end of life vehicles and sell salvage parts, even if it is in other international markets one day. Under-developed countries won’t adapt to these new technology cars right away and cars will need parts in those countries. We have always been an industry that has been able to evolve and rise up to challenges.
Gone are the days where there was massive competition and division between yards. I see us being more cooperative and uniting to defend our industry against companies or movements that limit our ability to operate.
AR: What is the biggest positive change in the industry and its workings that you have witnessed in your career?
Robertson: The biggest positive change in the automotive recycling industry that I have witnessed is the computer and the integration of a yard management system. Prior to the computer, the most modern type of inventory was the card system. A person would write down the vehicle’s parts on a preprinted layout 8 ½ x 11-inch card and attach Polaroid photographs of the vehicle. In some cases, motors, transmissions, transfer cases and rear ends would have a separate/smaller card inventory system that salesmen could flip through to see inventoried parts.
When a part was sold, it was the salesman’s responsibility to remove the corresponding small card and line out the sold part on the larger inventory card. Most yards did not have an inventory system and sold parts from memory. Naturally, all invoices were hand written. Accounts receivables and payables were all manually sent out and reconciled.
AR: What is the goal of the Regional Director committee, and why should members and non-members take note of your activities?
Robertson: The goal of the Regional Directors is to be the eyes and ears of ARA. We meet each month for an hour to discuss each directors’ region. Often, there is a representative from the Executive Committee on the call. Individual members of the regional directors each have a vote on ARA’s Board. We are each region’s vote. I have often asked questions during Board meetings on how my region will be affected by a vote and then voice what action they should take.
AR: How can one get involved in your efforts to make the most impact for your agenda items?
Robertson: The way to get involved in my Regional Directors efforts is to communicate. Read our newsletters, emails and publications. Respond to our surveys and requests for information. Notify us of there is a problem or issue that needs to be addressed. Attend the conventions and become involved with ARA.
AR: What are the goals of your current efforts within the ARA on your many volunteer activities?
Robertson: My current ARA involvement goals are to launch the awareness campaign. We as yard owners or employees take for granted that everyone knows the option of repairing a vehicle with recycled parts. We need to educate the public of the benefits of recycled parts. If an ARA member needs the materials, they should reach out to the ARA office and we will get them into their hands.
Heart of the Industry
Meet Steve Holland
President Brandon Auto Salvage
Co-Chair, Events Advisory Committee
Steve Holland is President of Brandon Auto Services, Inc. dba Brandon Auto Salvage in Valrico, Florida.
Since 1971, Steve Holland and Ken Anderson have taken pride in building Brandon Auto Salvage into a most progressive and organized salvage operation. The company is an active community supporter, participating in numerous civic organizations and sponsoring youth activities.
Brandon Auto Salvage is an authorized Barely Used Auto Parts Dealer. They maintain a large inventory of late model used parts for both foreign and domestic cars, SUV’s, and light trucks. Parts such as motors, transmissions, transfer cases, rear-end assemblies, doors, computers, bumpers, starters, alternators, radios, and more.
Steve has been an ARA member for over 40 years, and has been chair of the Events Advisory Committee as well as an active part of the committee. We caught up with Steve to ask about his work on the Events Advisory Committee.
Automotive Recycling magazine: What is the biggest positive change in the industry and its workings that you have witnessed in your career?
Steve Holland: I believe it is the unifying of the Automotive Recyclers Association membership to be effective on legislative issues. In the past several years,I have seen more ARA members working together on positive legislation for our industry and banding together to support positive legislation or to defeat threatening legislation.
AR: What is the goal of your committee, and why should members and non-members take note of your activities?
Holland: Our goal is to have a convention that educates every attendee while helping them build industry relationships in a fun atmosphere. AR: What is the one thing you hope the industry does to help itself succeed as a collective industry and individual auto recyclers? Holland: I hope that we find a way to sell more quality parts from a vehicle and help the recycler to profit more from the purchase of the vehicle.
AR: How can one get involved in your efforts to make the most impact for your committees’ goals?
Holland: Most people attend a convention to be educated with the newest processes and equipment to create better productivity. I like our committee members to have attended conventions and have a feeling of what sessions and speakers would enhance our convention. It helps to have a feeling of what would attract more attendees to attend our convention. We are always open to ARA member’s suggestions as well.
AR: What are the goals of your current efforts within the ARA on your many volunteer activities?
Holland: My goal as a co-chair of the Events Advisor Committee is to help select cities that are interesting, convenient for travel, and would attract more attendees. I concentrate on having interesting speakers and knowledgeable sessions to educate everyone that attends. An event that promotes the building of relationships with the membership, exhibitors and industry experts.