I’m back at work here after attending the ARA Legislative Summit and Hill Day, and this got me to thinking about our association, its history, where it is now, and where it is going. 75 years is indeed a long time for an association to have survived. Even back in the earliest days of automobiles, auto recyclers have been creative and innovative to say the least. From the beginning, auto recyclers developed a dismantling process for salvaged vehicles to harvest reusable parts and components. This provides a service to consumers, environmental conservation, and customer service. So, let’s look at how this association began.
This all started back in 1941 during WWII when the government had regulations that required all salvage yards to scrap all of their inventory to support the war effort. This made it virtually impossible for the auto recyclers to retain any kind of inventory for sale. Shortly thereafter in 1943, the National Auto Truck Wreckers Association, (NATWA), now known as your ARA was created out of necessity to address these legislative issues that were facing our industry. This group worked with the lawmakers in Washington and negotiated a fair deal for all concerned.
It’s kind of funny that even back then, the saying of “you’re either at the table, or you’re on the plate” held true. Our industry has changed and evolved over the years, with more cars being built and with the creation of insurance companies, auto salvage pools and auctions, ARA has played a key role in tackling the issues that affect us all. They have represented us and worked long and hard to protect our interests and keep our industry relevant and viable. This is what got us to the present.
We are now facing challenges from the OEMs with their new “Certified Repair Procedures,” how they now say that the only way to safely repair a vehicle is with new OEM parts. We are facing information denial from the OEMs, for VIN information as well as build info. This information is available to the insurance and repair industry, but not us.
The FAST Act
Back in December of 2015, the Federal Highway Administration’s Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act was signed into law. What this meant for the auto recyclers was, now we would have the information we would need so that we would not be selling recalled parts. This is obviously a public safety issue and the puzzling thing is, this law is now over three years old and we have had to fight to get a viable solution for auto recyclers. We are currently testing an API data feed through the National Salvage Vehicle Reporting Program (NVSRP) to assure that recyclers will get this vital information directly in their management systems.
The Need for Training and Education
Certification will be a key part for suppliers, as well as repairers going forward. We, as an association, are working on building a credible certification program for recyclers. There is also a great need for training and education within our industry. There are a lot of recyclers, both large and small, that are struggling and in need of help.
We need to look at these not as problems, but as opportunities. ARA, your association, is working hard to find solutions to these problems facing us all. We now have the ARA Peer Mentoring Program. This will be a cornerstone in ARA’s new direction in training and education for its members.
Our mission will be to assemble a group of successful operators in the industry to coach or advise any members looking for mentorship or simply for help and advice on how to do things better. Our ultimate goal is to help all members, especially our smaller, struggling, and new members to become successful, better, more responsible operators, and in effect, better our industry as a whole.
Now the Future
What the future holds for all of us, no one really knows, but one thing is for certain: The past and the present are the best predictors of the future.
Remember this: you only get out of something what you put into it. This industry needs ARA to keep it relevant and viable. We all need to do our part, contribute, invest the time, work, and money needed to ensure our future.
ARA was there in the beginning, the present, and the future. ARA is your association. It is the only association for all auto recyclers!
The ARA Vision: Train, Educate, Advocate!
ARA Secretary · Northlake Auto Recyclers — Hammond, IN
Hollingshead has been in the professional automotive recycling industry for 45 years, including 34 years as President/Owner of Northlake Auto Recyclers, one of the industry’s leading facilities. Hollingshead prides himself on taking a hands-on approach in the business, employing the use of checks and balances for quality control to ensure customers only receive the highest quality parts. Northlake was one of the first automotive recycling facilities in the state of Indiana to receive from the Indiana Department of Environmental Management the Indiana Clean Yard – Gold Level Certification in 2009. Northlake was certified as one of the Indiana Certified Automotive Recycler Exemplary Standards (INCARES) program’s inaugural medalists and was the highest scoring facility in Indiana in 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, and tied for first place in 2018. Northlake was also the recipient of the 2016 ARA Certified Automotive Recycler of the Year award, having been nominated by his peers in the industry.