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Incoming Leader: Ready to Serve

By Caryn Smith

The newest member of the Automotive Recyclers Association Executive Committee is no stranger to leadership or  industry experience. Martin “Marty” Hollingshead – President of Northlake Auto Recyclers in Hammond, Indiana – bought his automotive recycling yard in 1984, but had gained experience and interest in the field since the early 1970s.

“I became interested in auto recycling while looking for parts for a car I had in 1973 in Evanston, Illinois, and started working in the industry. Then in 1983, I began to work at a facility in Hammond, Indiana and bought the business – Northlake – in 1984,” says Hollingshead. “I was 28 years old when I bought it. It has been a lot of hard work and learning.”

Northlake Auto Recyclers consists of 18-½ acres, 100,000 sq. ft. under roof and 40,000 sq. ft. outside covered storage. This full-service facility specializes in domestic car and light truck automotive recycling, processing 1,500 cars a year, with 27 employees, most of whom are well-tenured with an average of 15+ years.

Hollingshead is very involved in the Automotive Recyclers of Indiana and active in lobbying legislators. In 2016, his facility was awarded the ARA CAR Award.

Automotive Recycling magazine spent some time with Marty on his new role.

What inspired you to COMMIT to the ARA and become a member of the Executive Committee?
With the general state of the industry and the challenges that will affect us all, I felt compelled that this is something that I have to do, while it will be difficult at times running my business and doing this at the same time. If we don’t take a proactive approach with issues in front of us, we will have people making decisions who don’t know who we are, or what we really do. I feel strongly that we need to take control of our own fate as an industry, and as operators.

What do you see coming in the future?
The shift in technology has everyone worried, but I believe it is not as big of an issue. Throughout our history, we have a proven record to change and adapt with vehicles. I remember back in 1980 when GM introduced the unibody front wheel drive cars, it was thought to be the death of our business, but we wound up with more opportunity.
For instance, if you told me 5 years ago that I could sell a recycled headlight for $1,500, I would have thought you were crazy. Years ago, we didn’t sell mirrors. We left them on the door, yet now they have an average value of $100 each. Demand for part types are changing with changes in cars. It is challenging, but we will continue to sell recycled auto parts.

My biggest concern for the future are the challenges around data and information. Our data has great value. There is a large misuse of data, and as auto recyclers, we are giving the world everything and we are not getting anything back. I want a fair process, instead of blindly supplying the world with our data. There needs to be a shift towards laws that will be made to regulate this. At this time there are no real rules – vehicle digital data is a “wild-wild west” environment right now.

Vehicle data is a privacy issue for the consumer. I believe we will see laws on this in the near future. How are insurance companies going to use vehicle data – will they use this to identify, and begin to exclude bad driving behavior? Some things are public and some things are private. Does the consumer really want someone to know every move they make in a car? And how will insurers and OEMs manage the repair of these connected vehicles? This is all to be determined.

I had a friend with a vehicle with WiFi, and his vehicle was hacked. His radio locked up on him for several days, his downloaded music disappeared, and then the “robo” calls to his address book began. With all new vehicles having internet connectivity, it’s a real issue.

What does future success look like for the ARA?
I would like to see the industry and the Association build a relationship with OEMs. There is a disconnect and misconception of who we are. We are not their competition, we sell their parts. We are a viable partner. We are OEM Recycled.

They need to realize our place in the market. In the 5-year and older market is where we thrive, when the new OEM parts go up dramatically in cost. They may say that we take away their “new” customer for a new car if there is a wreck, but those buyers typically will buy a used car. There is opportunity for the OEMs to also sell parts to the owners of these wrecked vehicles.

ARA needs to change and adapt more quickly, and help its members change and adapt. We are living in a different world, and I fear we either adapt or get left behind. ARA has to be the lead dog in this industry, because we represent all automotive recyclers.

To increase membership, we have to do what we do in our businesses – work hard and do a good job – there is no hidden secret to success. Members need to see value, such as in training and education, and member participation is required.

We have started a Member Mentor initiative – a peer to peer group – where auto recyclers help other recyclers as a resource. We are identifying members that want to be a mentor and those that are asking to be mentored; to sit down together and share ideas on how to be better operators. There are many new people to the industry that we can give ideas on fundamentals. Smart people taught me, we should pay it forward.

In five to ten years, what do you think the industry will look like?
In the future, there will probably be more consolidation, which will result in larger more progressive operators, but there will always be a place for smaller better operators. It might be tougher to compete, but those committed to making investments and to what they do as a progressive operator will thrive. If they are willing to adapt and change, invest in their business and their people, and embrace newer technology as it rolls out, they’ll be fine.

The fact is that it is a shrinking industry, with a mix of operators. Those smaller operators that specialize may fare better than others. We as an industry need to focus on the basics, and concentrate on proper consistent execution of fundamentals. While numbers are important, we need to instead focus on what drives them. This is what I think of as the big picture approach. I look forward to turning challenges to opportunity.

What is the best way for members to be involved in the Association?
We need members to help us grow by bringing their colleagues into the Association, but more than that, we need to be united. The industry is currently fragmented. Come together, big and small.

There is strength in numbers, and not just in dues and revenue. Strength in numbers means to attend conferences, be part of meetings, learn what is happening in the larger scope of things. Be involved in State and National Associations. ARA can encourage this by getting back to basics, and helping members stay viable, relevant and represented.

Let’s all unite and do better. There is no easy button. It all boils down to hard work. Keeping it real and getting something done should be the focus.