Taking Ownership of Your Industry

Jan 1, 2024 | Industry

By Nick Daurio • ARA President

Our industry employs more people than big businesses when you put the whole industry all together. That impact is significant, and it requires a level of responsibility that we all must incorporate to our mindset for success. What we do as individual operations can reflect on the entire industry. This was the underling message at the recent ARA 80th Annual Convention & Expo, as we celebrated our success, industry excellence, and ARA’s 80th Anniversary.

As an industry full of legacy businesses, we know that generational transitions stir up change; and we must change with the times. Modernization is important. Technology ensures that when a customer calls, the part is correct and in the condition that it was described, it’s warrantied, and it’s delivered on time. Technology includes website appeal, attention to customer reviews, and digital sales management. Overall, this contributes to establishing a good reputation; a core foundational value of those who came before us.

Auto recycling has always been in my blood since I was a very young man. My father started the business in 1957, and I started working for him in 1975 as a fulltime buyer and salesman. He taught us to earn the respect our customers, our community, and our industry peers. Fast forward to today, my son Greg is our current president and third-generation recycler carrying on the legacy in his ethics.

For 80 years, our Association has been protecting the rights of automotive recyclers in some form or fashion in an industry that started 100 years ago. We are still the number one recycling industry in the world and a viable part of the circular economy and the supply chain worldwide. We’ve evolved from the good old days of fuel stations, backyards body shops, tow yards, and even from dairy farms, as in the case of EC member Shannon Nordstrom.

We are an industry driven by change; and we’ve seen many changes to the business model in full-service, self-service, independents, and consolidation. And in the early days of beautification to today’s CAR Certification, from voice hotlines to inventory management software, carburetors to fuel injection, front wheel drive to the electric vehicle.

ARA has always been for advocacy, and it always will be. Government regulations have always been on the Association agenda. Staff like Emil Nusbaum make tremendous strides in so many areas to protect and preserve our industry. The Government Affairs Committee is an example of the backbone of ARA. Our committee chairs and volunteer members of the Awareness Committee, Interchange Committee, Scholarship Foundation Committee, and Annual Convention Educational Committee – as well as the Auto Recyclers Training Institute – are diligently working to improve the success of the modern auto recycler.

I believe that the true foundation for any recycler’s success today is found in the Certified Automotive Recycler (CAR) program. Certification not only moves the association forward, but improves our image, our product reliability, and our facility standards. It has the power to elevate our industry to a new level of operational excellence. All members, past and present, contribute to our lasting success.

I’ve had many people ask, “What’s your return on investment to become certified, involved with ARA or state association membership?” The bottom line is, it’s not a cost – it’s an investment in your future.

This year is a third-party audit year for the CAR program. The effort that our facility made to prepare for our first CAR audit, with dollars spent, was worth it when the true test came. We hit it out of the park – a grand slam – the day our site was visited by regulators. I could not be prouder to be part of this program, as we achieved victory because we had a well-ordered plan in place. Any certified recycler would be help another facility get acclimated with the program.

So, now I ask you, “What is your next step?”

I stepped into ARA leadership because I was asked. I went into it pondering what I had to offer. The industry has been so good to our generational medium-size independent business. Most of the recyclers in my geographic region are of the same mold – they’re honest, hardworking family-run recyclers, but I find that they are disappearing fast.

My goal was to be a voice for smaller independent recyclers. If I can make an impact on one recycler, it will be worthwhile. Leadership is the best training tool and having access to your peers on a regular basis is inspiring. I encourage you to take a step towards getting involved.

I look forward to working beside all of you in 2024. We have a bright future ahead. 

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