Giving Back: The ARA (Peer-to-Peer) Mentoring Program

Sep 1, 2023 | Business

By Marty Hollingshead

We both felt that if we could save just one recycler from going out of business the program would be a success.

I would like to start this off with a story about people who have made a big difference in my life and who I turned out to be.

Back in Chicago when I was in fifth grade, I had a teacher named Mr. Tomasello. He was a big grey-haired, bearded Italian in his late 40s. The best way to describe him was that he looked like a mean Santa Claus. I lived in a tough Italian neighborhood, and I was a typical Chicago tough kid, and always got myself in trouble. His class was no different, and this teacher was always up to the challenge. Our class was on the third floor, and he was well known for his toughness. His punishment would be to put you in a three-foot-tall garbage can in the classroom, sometimes upside down! He also took a student and opened the window and grabbed him by the ankles, and held him out the window upside down! Nowadays, he would be on the evening news, lose his job, and probably be charged criminally, but back in old days that’s how things were done.

Like I said, I was one of his problem students, but this guy saw something in me. I remember that November when he came to our house at 8 p.m. on a Tuesday night, and told my mother that I was very smart and to get me out of that neighborhood or I was headed for trouble.

After the Christmas break, we had two big blackboards in the back of the classroom that were never used. They were used now! On the left side he had a “Passing List,” and on the other side he had a “Failing List” with all of us on it. Guess who was number one on the Failing List? It was me; he also gave a little talk about who and why we were on those lists. It was embarrassing for sure, but it got me motivated. I said to myself, “I’m going to make him eat his words!” For the next four months, I worked my tail off and by May 1st, I was at the top of the Passing List. From that point on I continued to work hard, apply myself, and tried to keep my nose clean (as best as I could).

We all have stories of someone that made a big difference in our lives, and for me this is the one I will always remember the most. This is just one of many that have guided, mentored, and advised me throughout my life. I can’t thank them all enough.

This is why mentoring and helping others is so near and dear to me. So, when RD Hopper was talking about the idea of the ARA Peer-to-Peer Mentoring Program, I said, “Great idea! Let’s do it,” and so it began.

We both felt that if we could save just one recycler from going out of business the program would be a success. Looking back after these five years, it has accomplished so much more.

I found out that being a mentor has has its challenges, but I can say the most rewarding thing is to see another recycler that you mentored be in a better place. I’m so proud of the recyclers I have mentored and what they have accomplished. Yes, there are frustrating examples, but just like being a teacher you have different types of students. Kind of like the beginning of my story, huh?

I still remember being at our very first presentation at ARA with RD Hopper. Someone came up to me and handed me a note which said:

“Every person owes time and money to the industry in which they are engaged. No one has a moral right to withhold his support from an organization that is striving to improve his conditions within his sphere.”

This guy was Lawrie Beacham.

This is on a plaque in my office, and whenever I get frustrated, I look at it, and remember why I am here and how what I do can be so important to others. I just continue on and always try to do my best.

This is just one more example of someone who has made a big difference for me.

Support your state and local associations! Support ARA!

Marty Hollingshead has been in the auto recycling business since 1973 and is the owner of Northlake Auto Recyclers, Inc., Hammond, Indiana, since 1984. Marty is on the ARA Executive Committee, currently serving as Immediate Past-President. He is a board member of the Indiana Automotive Recyclers Association. Both Marty and Northlake have received numerous awards and recognition for excellence in the industry and the community. Reach Marty at 219-937-3960 or visit

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