Value of an Outside Perspective

Nov 1, 2023 | Industry

By Nick Daurio • ARA President

Coming into the ARA Presidency in Kansas City this past October was a time to reflect on the last three years of my deeper involvement with ARA and the ARA Executive Committee, and also look ahead to a new year of activity representing the ARA membership. When I first joined the EC as secretary, I set out to learn and understand before offering input. I prefer to make comments on a situation or issue knowing that I have considered it thoroughly, and can offer a viable suggestion. Occasionally, though, I found that as a new EC member, as someone not so close to the issue, I could sometimes see it from another perspective.

Shan Lathem and Nick Daurio at the presidential gavel exchange.

In our business, we have always taken pride in running a solid operation. I encourage you to also take pride in your business, your team, and your industry, as well. As a principle, I believe it’s imperative that you should keep on top of all the standards and the regulations that are in place in your local, regional, and national regulatory agencies. Our team works with purpose, to create systems and processes that make it a safe, fun, and productive workplace. For many years, we thought we were doing everything correctly.

ARA offers many ways to get insight and information to be on the right side of the rules. In fact, as we got deeper into the ARA University training and the CAR Certification process, we were surprised to have a new perspective on problem areas we had thought to be good. If I take our rainwater permit, as an example, we had the permit, but we found out it wasn’t current. A lot of the regulations changed, and we realized that they are going to change again in 2025.

The insight of the third-party auditor helped us with our CAR Certification and opened my eyes to the fact that you may think you are doing something right, but it can be wrong! We really needed to up our game. Another area we fell short was in organizing our documentation. We had it, but we didn’t have it all in one place with easy access to it. For instance, we would invoice sales of scrap tires or waste oil, but we would keep the documents in separate folders. Now with the certification program, all that information is right in front of you in one binder. It is all organized and easy to chart, whether it’s on a daily, monthly, or quarterly basis. Trying to access the information is easy, especially when it comes time for an audit – whether it’s your third-party auditor or an EPA or state health and environment regulator.

Utilizing ARA University is a vital aspect for my son Greg, who manages our staff. Training and education are important to employee safety and welfare. Whether he teaches a new employee about de-pollution of a vehicle or ongoing safety training, and even the safe handling an electric vehicle, ARA University delivers important content ensuring we cover all the important points in training. Furthermore, the redesigned ARA CAR Certification logo now includes “chevron badges” representing EV, Recall, and Gold Seal Customer Service certification – and qualifying

for them provides another chance at an outside perspective on your facility.

Our desire has always been to be honest and respectful of our customers and staff, and provide the best possible price on the best possible part with the best possible service. Many of you can relate to that mission, and maybe you feel you don’t need an outside perspective. Once involved with the certification program, it reassured all of us that we were we were on the right path for success. The test came recently when the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulators came into our facility. We had the confidence that we were 100% prepared to navigate through that process with positive results.

I can’t emphasize that enough. When the regulator shows up at your facility and you’ve been preparing for this, it’s an unbelievably satisfying reward for not only you, but for your staff who shares in the knowledge that you achieved a goal, and you did it the right way the first time.

Take pride in your business. A first impression goes a long way. As a second-generation owner, my father taught us values that have earned us respect from our customers, our community and from our industry peers.

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