A Moment In History

The URG 2022 Educational Conference in New Orleans is now a part of our history as well as the history of everyone that attended. I sincerely believe this was one the best conferences ever! The conference theme, Look Forward, Honor the Past, speaks volumes regarding the need for individuals, companies, and organizations to remember what transpired in the past that helped shape who we are today. 

There is a critical need for a society and business to study its history and how that history has and will impact current and future events. History does not just happen; it is made. It was made by real people, who faced real challenges and had uncertainty about the future, just as we do. Author David McCullough said, “… history is not the past. If you think about it, no one ever lived in the past…  They lived in the present. The difference is that it was their present, not ours. They were caught up in the living moment exactly like we are, and with no more certainty of how things would turn out than we have.”

Looking back into the past, we can better understand the present and predict the future. With history, we can track our origins and compare past patterns with present and future patterns. Modern technology teaches us new ways of doing things. Looking back at history tells us why we do these things.

Starting the conference out with two of the founding Board Managers, Bill Tolpa and Ron Sturgeon discussing the history up-hill struggles and challenges faced by the first URG Board, helped set the stage for the rest of the conference. It was a daunting task to create United Recyclers Group and, at the same time, work to develop a new yard management system. Although we understand relationships between companies were strained in the early years, time and the willingness for the parties to work together for the good of the industry helped mold the company URG is today.  

Companies are seldom founded on a whim. Whether they are founded to start a specific business, solve a specific problem, or assist a specific community, companies are created with a vision of being a force for positive change to help shape a better future. The founding vision, in most instances, forms the very heart of the organization. It encompasses the problems the founders wished to solve and the tenets that guided their actions in creating a positive change and outcome.

No company or organization that ever accomplished anything worth doing, did so without its share of failures. It’s not easy to chronical past defeats and failures; however, when they are acknowledged and shared alongside the company’s successes, it demonstrates how the company learned and grew from those mistakes. Sometimes a company must take two steps backward to start moving forward.

Knowing and embracing your company’s history is an effective tool for building a lasting culture and guiding leadership. It is a powerful connective force between you and your customers. A company’s culture matters. More than ever before, it is the driving force that attracts new talent, builds morale, and inspires innovation. Throughout each year in business and with each hurdle your company overcomes, its culture and its enduring legacy grows stronger, culminating into a set of principles and practices that serve as the foundation for achievement and strong, ethical relationships.  

We hope that your attendance at this year’s conference stimulated your interest in understanding the history of your company. Please help your employees understand the history and the original vision of your founders.

Now on the lighter side, I thought I would throw in some fun facts regarding the history of automotive recycling. In 1885 there were only 4 cars officially registered in the US.  A little more than 20 years later in 1916, 3,376,889 were registered.  In 1909, a Ford cost $825 and Ford sold 10,000 that year. In less than 20 years Ford built more than 15 million vehicles.  Junk yards became a place where non-running vehicles could be sold instead of having the vehicle set out behind the house rusting.  In the 1930s, recyclers were buying Model A Fords for $10.00 and Model Ts for $5.00 to $10.00 dollars.  Part stores and Junk yards (auto recyclers) entered the picture. It is interesting to note that no new vehicles were produced in the US between the years of 1942 and 1945. Those same years, salvage yards were required to scrap everything to support the war effort. It is amazing how far the recycling industry has come!!

Prior to the Scholarship Foundation event, the National Auto Body Council Recycled Rides® program teamed up with United Recyclers Group at the conference to present two refurbished vehicles to New Orleans military members. On Friday April 8, a deserving New Orleans area veteran and an active-duty National Guard member experienced a life-changing event – the presentation of two vehicles to provide them independence and the ability to work and take care of their families –thanks to car donors Allstate Insurance and GEICO Insurance, and repair partners Frank’s Accurate Auto Body and Wreck-A-Mended Collision. I am especially proud to announce that at the last minute, our members reached in their pockets and raised $3,600 that was split between the two service members.

For those of you that joined us at the WWII Museum Aviation Pavilion event, we want to thank you for your generosity in helping the URG Scholarship Foundation raise more than $136,000 dollars through auction items and cash donations!

I want to again thank all our sponsors, vendors, and recyclers for attending the 2022 Educational conference.  We have already started planning for our 2023 conference at the Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress in Orlando April 27-29th.

We can’t wait to see you there!

Donald C Porter CEO
United Recyclers Group, LLC.