Keep Your Finger on the Pulse of the Industry

May 1, 2023 | Industry

By Shan Lathem • ARA President

I can tell you with great confidence that everyone is trying to figure it out and nobody has the answers – not even the OEs. There are too many moving pieces, too many questions, too many unknowns.

I remember as a child, watching the Jetsons and being so excited at the prospect of personal transportation devices that would fly you through the air to your destination. As I get closer to completing nearly half a century’s worth of trips around the sun, I guess that young girl figured we would be there by now. We have awhile to go before we’re living the high-tech life of the Jetsons.   

I have great appreciation for people that have vision and creativity. They can see something where there is nothing and somehow take an idea and turn it into something tangible and real.  In this life there are so many conversations that revolve around things that just aren’t real, although the powers that be would like us to think so.

It’s not an easy task to filter through all the noise – to know what’s important and what isn’t. There is so much information floating around and we are simply overloaded. It’s just impossible to process it all with limited time and money – both of which are so hard to come by.  

As the association representing all recyclers, ARA’s duty is to anticipate changes that may have an impact on our industry, on our businesses. The electrification of the fleet has been the buzz through all aspects of the automotive sector the last few years. ARA anticipated the need for facilities to have access to quality training for handling these vehicles. We have received accolades from so many organizations, even outside our industry, for the training that is available to our members. Several of those organizations, like NEMA (as well as others), have used our training as a template for their own training programs. Anticipation is important. It keeps us moving forward. Keeping an eye on all the moving pieces, and adjusting as needed, is what we have to do and it is what ARA does on a daily basis.

Two to three years ago I found myself worrying about my business and its longevity due to the imminent takeover of EVs and the certain downward spiral of my father’s legacy due to factors beyond my control. What do I do? Am I done? Should I sell? Should I convert my industrial land to a different use? Panic hit me in the face. Many of you have voiced those same fears and concerns. Today is different. I don’t worry about it any longer.

With my volunteer position at ARA I have access to information that many do not. We share as much information as possible through various forms of media such as this publication, ARA’s website, social media and other platforms. There are times when we are in discussions that require us to sign NDAs. Your association is at the table and participating in important dialogues that are shaping our futures, and in many ways, determining or impacting our sustainability as an industry. We are representing your best interests in every conversation.  

I’m in my fourth year on the EC and having been a participant in those conversations for that many years, I can tell you with great confidence that everyone is trying to figure it out and nobody has the answers – not even the OEs. There are too many moving pieces, too many questions, too many unknowns. Are EVs having an impact? Certainly. But for most of us, it’s minimal and looks like it will be that way for years to come. It’s not the time to worry or panic. It’s new and exciting and will certainly create opportunities for recyclers. It’s something that, as automotive dismantlers and recyclers, we should be watching – and if you’re reading this article you are doing just that. This is how you keep your finger on the pulse of important issues facing our industry. Stay engaged with ARA and your fellow recyclers.

If possible, attend the ARA Annual Convention and Expo, celebrating ARA’s 80th anniversary. The educational content will be phenomenal and, of course, we will have updates on the electrification of the fleet and how it relates to our industry. Keep doing what you do, keep getting better, keep leveling up your business. Stay focused and keep grinding. Unless they figure out teleporting, then panic.

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