Automotive Recycling Owners’ Focus on Governmental Activities is Essential

Most people have heard the old adage “If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?” Around the globe, a similar question should be posed as to whether if governmental activity is occurring and no one hears about it, does it have an impact on individual automotive recycling owners? Clearly, the answer is yes.

While many professional automotive recyclers bemoan government and politics, the reality is that both have a significant effect on the successfulness of your individual businesses. While many entrepreneurs ultimately overcome governmental barriers to run a successful operation, the question is at what cost? What capital improvements, equipment or other enhancements could have been secured if a rule or regulation was prevented before the significant financial burdens ever came into effect. I can assure you that any industry’s preemptive strike of a potential rule or requirement is significantly less expensive than the regulatory infection that afflicts the industry afterwards.

I can guarantee you that whether or not automotive recycling owners pay attention to government, there will be activity and consequences. Industry indifference or inadequate action will be met with waves of unfavorable rules and restrictions that will affect your business’ financial bottom-line.

It is also important that all owners and leaders realize that an industry’s governmental activity should not be one-sided. Just as in sports, it is essential to have a well-articulated offensive as well as defensive strategy. In 2015, French automotive recyclers were rewarded for their aggressive approach with a national statute introduced into the consumer code that obligated vehicle maintenance or repair professionals to offer consumers the option for utilizing used parts instead of new parts. The long-awaited measure takes effect April 1 of this year.

Over my nearly twenty years in the professional automotive recycling arena, I can assure you that your automotive recycling activities are the focus of conversations every single day in some corner of the world. It might not be your local zoning commission, but today someone in your state is talking about issues that have a bearing on the way your business is conducted. These discussions include unelected government regulators or adversarial competitors that seek an advantage over your business interests in the marketplace.

Is this business reality scary to you as an owner? Of course, it is. Are you willing to actively participate in the process to address these concerns or do you feel that you as one individual business owner cannot really make a difference? With the challenges of more complex motor vehicles, data demands and dynamic global markets, it is imperative that business owners’ engage in the important policy discussions of the day.

If you are a smaller entity in the industry does your non-participation allow your competitors to steer decisions that are more advantageous to their business model? Your participation in the process provides the checks and balances to ensure the strategy is equitable for all automotive recycling industry stakeholders. It is important to note who is at the table along with who is not and to consider those voices that are not represented during that decision-making process. If this conversation was about your weekly or monthly revenue numbers would you sit idlily by without aggressively engaging to sustain and grow your sales?

Just as the tree falling in the woods, sound waves reverberate whether someone is there or not, so too will the effects of governmental activity. If you chose not to actively participate or ignore what is happening, it does not mean you won’t be affected. It just means you have to pay whatever the invoice others determined you must pay – not once but continuously for as long as the requirement is in place or you are in business.

I can promise you that all this activity you have chosen not to focus on is significantly affecting your business monetarily. Just because you have chosen not to engage yourself doesn’t mean the cost will be any less. In fact, financial burdens could be significantly higher than they could have been. The time is now to get involved at all levels of politics and governmental activities. It should be you that determine the decisions that drive the future of your business, not the desire of individuals or competitors with conflicting interests.

Michael E. Wilson, Past Chief Executive Officer of the Automotive Recyclers Association

As the Chief Executive Officer of the Automotive Recyclers Association (ARA) from 2007 through 2018, Wilson played a key role in the professional automotive recycling industry in the United States and around the globe.  Under his leadership, the ARA emerged as a major force in promoting effective competition in the international markets for replacement automotive parts. Wilson can be reached at