Current Issue

Back to ARA Magazine

Heart of the Industry

Inspiring Community

Sandy Blalock
Blalock Consulting
Affiliate Chapters Committee Co-Chair

Sandy Blalock began her full time career in auto recycling in 1993 when her family purchased her father-in-law’s interest in the 10-year-old company, Capo’s Truck and Auto Parts in Albuquerque. Sandy managed this facility along with her sons Bill and Robert. During her tenure with the family business, she achieved her goal of building it into one of the best facilities in the state of New Mexico with Gold Seal and URG 8000 certifications.

She served on the New Mexico Automotive Recyclers Association Board for 17 years, including four years as president. During her time on this board she was actively involved in state legislation to change the licensing for automotive recyclers and legislation that mandates non-repairable vehicles only being sold to licensed automotive recyclers in New Mexico. Sandy also represented NMARA as the government affairs liaison for many years. She is the recognized spokesperson for the industry in New Mexico for public relations and media. In December 2009 the business was sold to LKQ.

In January 2011 Sandy started Blalock Consulting to redirect her focus on helping and giving back to the industry that she felt gave so much to her. She now focuses her energy on managing the New Mexico Certified Automotive Recyclers Association, Utah Automotive Recyclers Association, Automotive Recyclers of Indiana, Automotive Recyclers of Arizona and the Pennsylvania Automotive Recycling Trade Society. Sandy has also helped other states in starting and rebuilding their associations and will continue until every state has a strong supportive association working for auto recyclers.

To go along with her auto recycling career Sandy has found time to serve on the ARA Executive Committee, leading to her time as President of ARA; Member and President of the ARA Educational Foundation; member of the ARA Government Affairs Committee; ARA Affiliate Chapters Committee; ARA State Chairperson; ARA Regional Director; and the ARA Budget Committee. She considers involvement with recycling associations paramount to success in our industry.

During her tenure as President of ARA Sandy attended all but one Affiliate Chapter meeting (two fell on the same weekend) including two trips to Canada and Australia to speak at their annual conferences. She has participated in most of the International Recycling Roundtables, traveling to Tokyo, Australia, Quebec and Liverpool.

Her goal as President of ARA was to find a way for ARA to assist states with state legislative issues and in July 2008 ARA convened the first Annual State Legislative Summit that has been held every year since. Summit attendees now assist in monitoring state legislation and works closely with ARA members in promoting positive legislation and fighting negative attacks on our industry.

Sandy’s motto in life is taken from Gandhi “We must become the change we wish to create.” Working together is a necessity not an option.

“The thing I like best about the industry is the people,” says Blalock. “I love their energy, intuition, and their drive to succeed in a world that constantly tries to conquer the industry. We don’t wait for solutions to our problems; we create those solutions and keep moving forward. I love the camaraderie and how we always reach out a helping hand to other recyclers.”

“The biggest positive change in the industry that I have witnessed in my career is that technology has changed the way we all do business” she says. “Along with that I think the most positive change has been in the communications among industry members. We now have Facebook pages dedicated to auto recyclers and their issues and concerns, and a great network of state associations that have immensely impacted recyclers in most of our states and provinces.”

“Affiliate associations are helping other associations with marketing and networking opportunities. We are all running fairly small organizations so we need to be efficient in how we operate and there is no reason we can’t all share our successes and, yes, failures with one another. Our industry is only as strong as our weakest link and that is extremely important and true in our state associations.”

“My goal as an Affiliate Chapter Committee Co-Chair is to continue the great work of many of my mentors, those who built this group into one of the most valuable Committee of ARA. I want to make sure that every affiliate has the resources they need to grow and continue their great work. I want to share ideas and work to keep these affiliates well-funded for all the work they do at the grassroots level.’

“My hope is the industry helps itself succeed as a collective industry and individual auto recyclers through getting engaged! Stop playing the victim and stand up for what you believe!” says Sandy. “For too long, I have heard many recyclers complain about business, competition, the cost of salvage, etc., yet some of those same recyclers fail to attend even their state/local tradeshows and conferences that would help them understand the direction our industry is headed.

“We have some great leaders at the national and state level with years of experience that would absolutely go out of their way to help their fellow recyclers. I hope auto recyclers take advantage of this free advice and guidance. Engage, read, attend, ask questions, stop being afraid to reach out for help!”

The bottom line is, Sandy Blalock wants auto recyclers to get involved, “Take that first step and find out where the next auto recycling event nearest you is being held. You can find that information on the ARA website. If not, Google your state, province or country association and reach out to them!
“Grassroots efforts pay off particularly in the many political battles we have had over the years,” shares Blalock. “It is time to be proactive and stop letting others decide our future. Let’s work together to fight bad legislation across the country that continues to nibble away at our ability to conduct business on our terms and let’s take the fight to the forefront and progressively move to assure that we will survive and continue to be able to sell all of the components that can safely be reused in the automotive repair marketplace.”

Blalock warns that auto recyclers have to be familiar with the laws and understand how they impact you. “If they are unfair and prohibitive, then we need to take action to correct that. Proactive engagement is easier to win than being on the other end fighting potentially prohibitive legislation.”
Finally, Blalock reminds recyclers that “no matter how big or small your business, we are all on the same team.” Consolidation is not what is destroying our industry, she says. “That is simply not true. Allowing others to divide us, is what we should be fighting. We can continue to grow and be profitable only if we continue to evolve with the changing face of our industry.

“We are not immune to the stresses of business, however, you are only going to get out of your business as much as you put into it. Let’s continue working together to protect the industry we all love.”

Editor’s Note: On April 23 the ARA Executive Committee sent an email to the membership announcing that ARA CEO Michael E. Wilson will be transitioning from the Association and that Past President Sandy Blalock has been named interim CEO.

Meet Casey Cornell
Cornell’s Auto Parts, Greenfield Center, NY
Regional Director

I grew up with a salvage yard in my backyard.

Cornell’s Auto Parts was my father’s business since the early 1970’s. I spent a lot of time in the yard as a kid but never had a job working there because my father always told me to get a real job. I completed two years of college for construction, worked as a contractor after college and then worked at a large insurance company in New Hampshire and in New York, doing construction on the side.

In 2004, about seven years into my career, my father became ill and unexpectedly unable to work. I stepped in part-time while working at the insurance company to keep things going for him. I never thought that it was a move that would change my entire career. That was 14 years ago, my dad has since passed and was never was able to come back to the business. I left the insurance job and purchased the business from my mother.

Now, I am a second generation auto recycler. I have thoroughly enjoyed learning the salvage business and growing my company. I was a part of ARA from the very start of my new career. My dad was a member of the state affiliate when I came in, so I kept paying the dues before I even knew why. After a few years I started to go to some meetings and conventions, and being green in the industry it was a huge help. Little did I know that after showing up at several Automotive Recyclers Association of New York (ARANY) meetings I would then be summoned to serve on the board. I started as secretary and worked up the ladder to being president in 2017. Also, in 2016, we became a member of PRP-NE. I am proud that over the past 12 years, we have grown to currently 17 employees as a full-service facility. We deliver daily and ship all over the country.

Overall, we are always looking for ways to better our company and to grow. Being of service to the industry is one way we get to be on the front lines of learning new things, and also helping others grow too.

What I really love about this industry is the people that I have met over the years. The camaraderie and good times at conventions and the way that our industry works together to make each other successful.

What is the biggest positive change in the industry and its workings that you have witnessed in your career?
The biggest change in the industry that I have seen in my career is the use of technology to sell parts. I was a member early on, when it was a new thing. Who would ever have thought how big a part of sales that has become. There is also a ton of electronic data matching, tiering, exchange partners, new types of inventory tools, eBay etc. … being able to see others’ inventory and share your own accurately and quickly is a huge part of business today.

What is your goal as a Regional Director, and why should members and non-members take note of your activities?
My goal as Regional Director is two-fold. I hope to first learn more about the workings of ARA, and its organizational goals. I then hope to be able to share that with the yards in my region and be a resource to them when needed. Ultimately, I want to help grow the membership and the overall involvement of the region. Of course, this is not an overnight process. The growth of ARA is important to protect our industry and pave our paths to the future.

What is the one thing you hope the industry does to help itself succeed as a collective industry and individual auto recyclers?
One thing I hope our industry can do to succeed in the future is to continue to change with the times, keep up with the ever-changing cars and markets. The industry needs to keep improving our image and educate the consumers about our business and our offerings.

How can one get involved in your efforts to make the most impact for your efforts?
To be successful at this we need all of your help. We don’t want to be “junkyards” anymore. We need all of you to do your best to do good business; produce a quality product and not be afraid to show it; be involved in our communities; and, spread the word of the good auto recycling does for them. The better our industry does the better everyone will do.