By Scott Robertson Jr.
Have you ever heard the phrase “All good things must come to an end,” and then ask yourself why? If you are reading my final column as ARA President, most likely you are an engaged member of the auto recycling industry and there is a good probability that you just had the most profitable 12 months of your life. I keep waiting for the bubble to burst and demand for our product to diminish, it just seems natural that it will not stay like this forever. What can we do to ride this wave longer?
Looking back, we didn’t get here by accident. I don’t think any of us changed our procedures – as a matter of fact, our procedures were stressed due to lack of employees. We didn’t have a huge influx of inventory – most of us struggled to keep inventory levels stable and had to pay more for it! We didn’t lower our prices – many of us raised prices. An outsider looking in would think that an industry under these constraints, and others not listed, would be struggling. So why are we prospering?
We have always had an alternative and lower-priced part for auto repairs, but could not escape the stigma that we sold junk. As the world’s most misunderstood industry, we only have ourselves to blame for not promoting the benefits of our industry, but sometimes people just don’t want to try something new. It’s kind of like someone hating a food group that they have never tried, only to finally try it and figure out that it’s delicious. Over the past 12 months, like us or not, may consumers have had to repair their vehicle with used auto parts. Will they order our part next time when they have the choice in repairs? … I say yes!
I’ve been the President of ARA for 21 straight months, probably a record, but who’s counting. The only way this was accomplished without a total breakdown was with the assistance of ARA’s outstanding staff and our great Executive Director Sandy Blalock. Our industry is fortunate to have her at our helm. Sandy is relentless in defending the rights of all auto recyclers in selling the product we harvest from end-of-life vehicles. I now understand why she was a track star in high school, she never gives up. When everyone was fearful of traveling, Sandy was boarding numerous flights to ARA headquarters to lead her staff and ensuring that our industry was considered “essential.” It was not by accident that ARA was there for all of us during these chaotic times. ARA is always here protecting us.
It’s with great sadness that with the upcoming Executive Committee transitions, Jonathan Morrow will finally be exiting the EC after a record six years of service. I will miss ordering his Shirley Temple drinks with extra cherries, as well as his even-tone matter-of-fact attitude that can calm a room. Even though Jono will no longer be a voting member of the EC, ARA will still be leaning on him for guidance and projects going forward … we are lucky that he’s still young!
Incoming President Marty Hollingshead has been my friend for many years and our industry is fortunate to have him leading the EC after my term. If you know Marty, he is a fierce defender of the automotive industry, but some do not know that he is just as charitable. Marty will open his wallet, open his heart and lend a hand to many in need. He is also “wicked smart”… both street and book. Let’s not forget the rest of the EC, Shan McMillon, Nick Daurio and Eric Wilbert, all super smart and dedicated to leading our industry. We might have differing opinions entering a room, but we always work to exit in agreement and support a unified message.
I was told that joining the EC would be too time consuming and that my business would suffer during my term as President. It’s true that you need to be dedicated in volunteering your time while on the EC, but completely false about my business. In fact, my business has thrived during my whole EC term. Being engaged and involved in our industry has improved my business more that I could have ever imagined, so much that I’ll stay engaged after I leave the EC. But the best thing that I received from being on the EC are the business contacts and the friends that I have made during the last five years; both are priceless. I’m going to continue riding the wave, and look forward to dispelling the saying that “all good things must come to an end”. It’s been an honor serving the last 21 months as President of ARA. Thanks for riding the wave with me.