The auto recycling business is unique. What I mean by that is that I tell people that it takes a certain breed to work and remain in this industry. It takes long hours, dedication and pride in what you do. It, by no means is a simple business to run or work in. Some individuals think that running an auto recycling yard is easy work and will make lots of money with little effort. Afterall how hard is it to get a junk car, take some parts off of it and sell it to a wanting customer? This statement is so far from the truth.
I have been doing this for 25 years and it still amazes me that some people do not get the concept of the industry. I have met so many interesting, hard-working people, owners and employees that are truly an inspiration. Some of these people work 7 days a week or maybe 12-13 hours a day. Some owners, a big part of their life is in the business. Buying cars, doing inventory, dismantling, depolluting, and worrying about the employees and their families. The employees, so many work long hours, dedicated to their job, making sure everything that they can do to make things right, make things run smoothly and do their job well. They stay and work extra hours if the owner needs help with no remorse. I’m sure everybody has some of these owners or employees at their business or job. I always say these are the people I want next to me if I go to war.
On the other side is the absentee owner, the one that is hardly at the business but stops by to bark orders, create chaos, then leave. He hires managers and employees to run his business. He has little idea of how the business operates or what it takes to keep it running, but enjoys the life and money he has from the hard work of his employees that really care about the business. How about the employee, comes in late, calls off or doesn’t show up? When he does show up is he really there or just occupying a space. Does little work, doesn’t care where he puts parts away, goes and hides in the yard somewhere and figures that somebody else will do his work. This employee thinks he works at Slate Rock and Gravel Company? Remember Fred Flintstone when the whistle blows at 5:00 slides down the dinosaur to punch out and go home. He leaves work undone and just only cares about what he will do when he leaves work; his day is done. While we all have some of these owners and employees, they are not the majority. The majority are the individuals that work hard and are dedicated and love this industry.
That brings me to the camaraderie that is so present with auto recyclers. Even thou we are competitors vying for the same customers, possibly in the same area, the people in the industry are always willing to help each other. Most of us are very willing to answer questions, give help or advise on how to improve somebody’s else’s business. All they have to do is ask for help. So many of the owners or managers will invite another recycler who are having trouble and questions to come to their yard and see the operation. But along with the advice and direction you must be willing to listen and implement some of the ideas. If you are lucky enough to visit other yards, go with an open mind. So much can be learned by the visit. Some things you may not have thought of and want to start doing as well as some things that may not be right for you. No matter what one can always come away with what to do or what not to do after visiting.
Last year my boss, a good friend and I took a trip to the New York, Massachusetts area. This friend worked for a yard management system company for 20 years and had made many good contacts in the recycling business. She contacted many of these people with short notice and said we all would be in the area and would it be possible to stop by and see their operation. With her introduction we were able to go to about 10 other recycling yards to view their business. The owners were so amazing. With no hesitation they opened their doors and showed us all around their business and discussed their operations. We were with some for more than 2 hours. They took time out of their busy day to give us a tour, answer questions and show us how they do things. Spent time talking about the old days and how things have changed as well as what the future holds for the recyclers. It was a great experience. I visit as many yards as I can and always come back with so much information.
Another area of the industry are the conventions. Whether they are state or national conventions, they are fantastic. It would be beneficial for recyclers to attend these state conventions if they are within the state or a nearby state. So much work goes into making an agenda of vendors and speakers. It nice to attend and meet the people you may only know from phone conversations. Again, there is always something to learn and take away from the seminars. Such a variety of topics, speakers and demonstrations to attend. And the vendors, give them applause. The cost of going to numerous conventions is high and they don’t just do one convention, you see them at different ones throughout the country. So, while the state conventions may not have dozens of vendors in attendance, the vendors come out to support the state. These state conventions should be attended by the recyclers within the state and nearby states it would be beneficial to attend. The national conventions are packed with all kinds of vendors and well worth going to at least once if not every year. If you can attend ARA or URG conventions you will be glad you came. So much to see and learn, whether it be state or national, staying current and educated is important. Technology changes, vehicles are forever changing go to some training classes. Invest in your business, support your industry and associations.
Manager, Inventory Specialist, Sales, Environmental Compliance, Daily Operations. Serves on the ARI board. Full time Northlake Auto Recyclers employee since 1996.
Northlake Auto Recyclers — (219) 937-3960 | www.narparts.com