By Vince Edivan
If you haven’t heard, ARA has launched a new project that may have eyebrows raised: A reality show! We all know there is plenty of drama in the business, but that isn’t the point. So, why would ARA produce a reality show? In a few words: To change the perception of the auto recycling industry. How do we get people outside of the auto recycling industry to pay attention? We entertain them.
When I joined ARA, my role was primarily to visit recyclers, grow membership, represent ARA at shows and meetings, and manage social media. I recognized that part of a good strategy for any social media presence is to create content that extends beyond your base. And, I really wanted to grab the attention of people outside the industry, but struggled with how.
Last year as I was traveling from facility to facility visiting different recyclers, touring their operations and listening to their stories, I would often hear, “You’ll never guess what we found in a car this one time!” After several of these encounters, an idea occurred to me and I thought about documenting this. Video blogging (referred to as Vlogging).
I watch a few YouTube channels of people in the automotive industry who vlog regularly. One guy vlogs about buying cars at Copart (Auto Auction Rebuilds) and another vlogs his Manheim car buying experiences (Flying Wheels). These channels garner hundreds of thousands of subscribers and views. While it can take years to gain that kind of base, it is a valuable influencer in the perception of the businesses they run. From what I can tell, there is no successful channel for the auto recycling industry. Yet, our industry is very interesting to the average person.
Picking, crushing, shredding, bailing cars! That’s fun to watch … but not enough to sustain a channel. I needed a hook and finding treasures in wrecked cars was the answer.
Shortly after I had this thought, I was speaking with Jonathan Morrow, ARA immediate past president, and I shared the idea with him of filming with my phone, with the business owner’s permission, me digging through cars to see what I could find. Or just recording their stories and seeing the objects that had been found in the past. Right then, he basically called a “time out” (que the T time-out hand signal). He revealed that he and Aaron Stone (Ultraviolet Media Co-Owner, his childhood friend, and mutual friend of him and I) had been kicking the same idea around for a year.
So, the three of us got together and began hammering out the details of the concept for “Totaled Treasure” as a way to create a new narrative that would dispel the old, dirty, oily, unorganized “junkyard,” and highlight the progressive, environmentally-conscious, high-tech, neat, organized automotive recycler. The ultimate goal is to promote the value and savings found in replacing the parts on a vehicle with the ROE–Recycled Original Equipment®.
The first episode debuted on November 12, and can be seen on www.facebook.com/TotaledTreasure. We traveled to Cocoa, Florida to visit Cocoa Auto Salvage owned by Shan McMillon, ARA 2nd Vice President/Treasurer, who agreed to be our test show.
What you see when you watch that episode is way more than I could have ever imagined. We are very proud of what UVM has produced. The quality is easily at the “cable TV” level. Some have suggested that perhaps we could get the series picked up by a cable network. While that is a nice thought, it is doubtful they would relinquish the type of control over the content that we would require in order to be sure the episode represents the industry well.
Our primary goal is to represent the industry in a good light and grow public awareness about ROE–Recycled Original Equipment®. The entertainment aspect is how we gain traction. While we entertain folks, they will be subtly educated about the industry. So, what does the future hold for Totaled Treasure? We will see!
Building a successful channel on YouTube or Facebook is a long endeavor. It could take a few years to monetize it. And in order to stay relevant, we will produce an episode a month. And, of course, the problem with not having the backing of a cable network is that we have to pay for production.
That is where auto recyclers come in! The pilot episode, funded by ARA, proved the concept! As of this writing, it has over 60,000 views on Facebook. We are now seeking ARA member automotive recyclers to “host” an episode, which means funding it. We are also seeking sponsorship opportunities with ARA associate members.
Recently, we wrapped up production at Wilbert’s Premium Auto Parts in Webster, NY (airing in December) and M&M Auto Parts in Fredericksburg, VA (airing January 2021). We have two more locations secured, and others who are very interested. The host facility receives tons of exposure, and keeps a copy of the profile and commercial for use any way they wish. All together, they get five finished pieces:
1. A trailer video.
2. The full episode.
3. An employee profile piece.
4. Behind the scenes video
5. A 30-second commercial
If you are interested in hosting an episode, please reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Also, you can follow Totaled Treasures on Facebook, YouTube, Instagram and TikTok.
Vince Edivan is ARA’s Director of Member Relations. In his role, he represents ARA at state industry events, working to connect with current and potential members.