International auto recycler travelers hit America’s highways and bi-ways in search of inspiration.
By Andy Latham
A great adventure includes good friends, warm hospitality, inspiring sites, and new ideas – which the feedback included from the recent 2018 “Recyclers Road Trip” just prior to the ARA Convention.
This trip, 19 recyclers from Holland, New Zealand, Poland and the United Kingdom met in Jacksonville, Florida on their way to Orlando for the 75th Annual ARA Convention & Expo. Go-Pull It, Greenstar Recycling, Central Florida Pick & Pay, All Pro Auto Parts, Brandon Auto Service and Cocoa Auto Salvage all welcomed the Road Trip attendees like friends, proudly providing tours, information, and answers to every question put to them.
“The Road Trip 2018 was a great adventure,” wrote Marta Witkowska, Vice-President of FORS. “We spent three days visiting auto recyclers with different ways of treating ELVs. We were impressed with the driving force of Central Florida Pick & Pay in Orlando (with 1,000 vehicles accepted monthly) and how perfectly All Pro Used Parts & U Pull It and Brandon Used Parts were organized. We enjoyed many ideas helping to develop sales, like the idea of a separate area for VIP clients and promotional days for spare parts.”
“Joining the road trip for the third time,” says Witkowska, “we’ve noticed that the environmental obligations for Authorized Treatment Facilities in the U.S. are becoming more demanding. In Poland, oil separators and airtight surfaces are, among others, the minimal obligations for auto recyclers. We are not able to keep ELVs on unprotected ground, that always surprises us the way ATF’s operate in the U.S. We find that much more practical.”
“We came away inspired and enthusiastic to implement some new ideas,” says Scott Green, Pick-A-Part in New Zealand. “There was something to glean from each of the yards and we commend everyone we visited for their willingness to share their knowledge of our industry. We highly recommend the road trip and we look forward to the next one.”
Joanna Dabrowska highlighted the differences between the U.S. and Poland. “From our point of view, despite the fact that each yard was somehow different from each other, the organizational basis was similar, and far different from what we can see in Poland. Most yards were focused on the second use of auto parts, while the price of scrap was not of significant importance. Also, all of the yards were organized as self-service yards (or semi-self-service yards), where the ELVs are stored for 60- to 90-days. This is different from the Polish facilities, where self-service yards are not popular, and, most yards are full-service, maybe due to lack of free space.”
“We should learn from American auto recyclers,” continued Witkowska, “on how to effectively sell, manage auctions, and consistently raise volume of sales. Americans are absolute masters in establishing cooperation among each other, with hub and spoke sales systems. That’s what we are developing in Poland.”
“I would like to thank each recycler who showcased their facilities and welcomed us,” says Andy Latham, annual Road Trip organizer, “and who also shared their knowledge with road trip attendees. Thanks to the travelers for their enthusiasm, fun and fellowship. We all look forward to meeting up again in 2019 on our way to Charlotte.”
Andy Latham is Managing Director of Salvage Wire and Chair of the Technical Advisory Committee of the ARA. Andy's desire is to highlight the professionalism in the vehicle recycling industry, increase knowledge and understanding, and keep everyone safe, ethical and profitable.