Auto Recyclers & Family

Feb 1, 2024 | Toolbox

Within the auto recycling industry, it is evident that we look out for each other and our families.

By Steve Fletcher

Nothing good comes from your daughter’s text message: “SOS – my car broke down on a bridge,” and she is 1,300 miles away in a different country.

My daughter Iris attends the University of North Florida in Jacksonville, Florida. On December 7, 2023 while returning from the Orlando airport to pick up a visitor from Canada, her engine failed in heavy traffic on a Florida freeway just north of Orlando. She called, naturally upset, and we talked her to safety on the side of the road, called a tow truck, and had her towed to a local GM dealer. She called a friend in Jacksonville and got a ride home, while we waited for the repair shop to diagnose the problem.

They diagnosed it as damage to the camshaft, requiring a new engine. They provided an estimate of $11,000, and when I asked, they said it was a “reman,” because they wouldn’t touch a used engine. We called around to try to find a repairer who would/could work on the car – but no luck in getting it done timely or with a used engine (with Car-Part showing lots in Florida). We debated hauling the car back to Canada to fix, scrapping the car (2016 Chevy Trax with 50k on it) or trying to find a garage that I could generate some amount of trust in – all with huge issues beyond the ugly financials.

I posted on the great resource – Professional Salvage Yard Information Forum (thanks Greg Condon!) – and immediately got some good intel and responses.

The real message is the importance of family within the auto recycling world.

My good friend Ron Matthews recommended Green Star in Orlando, and then Neil Harrow from Green Star chimed in that he had some engines and some trustworthy repairers they work with, so I had some leads and a phone number.

I called Chris Sauls from Green Star Auto Recyclers the next day, and it was as if my problems evaporated. I explained the situation, who I was, the mutual people we know in the industry (Shan, Kim, JC, etc.), but when I told him this was my daughter’s car, where I was located – well, the importance of family in the auto recycling industry took over.

Chris was all in – “I got this,” “No problem,” “We’ll make this right,” “I will check the car over like it’s for my daughter,” etc.,  – everything a nervous and concerned parent wants to hear.

Green Star had a low mileage engine coming in that week that he would personally check, and he arranged for a full engine replacement over the Christmas holidays with someone he trusted. When the car was back at his place, he went over the entire vehicle and did some brake work, struts, fuel pump to make the vehicle safe. He even apologized for authorizing the work, because he knew that’s what his daughter’s car would need.

Iris picked the vehicle up on a Sunday morning (Chris arranged to have an employee meet her then), shiny and newer than when it went in. And yes, the price was right for all the products and services Green Star provided, above and beyond the peace of mind he delivered to my family and I.

Nice story, yes. But the real message is the importance of family within the auto recycling world. It’s still an industry dominated by independent, family-run businesses, and through the actions of people like Chris, the ethos of looking after your kin is alive and well. I think everyone reading this will have a story about helping a fellow auto recycler or a family member when the need arises. It’s why events like the ARA Convention can have a bit of a family reunion feeling to them.

Because the auto recycling industry is like family.

Steve Fletcher is the Managing Director of the Automotive Recyclers of Canada association, an umbrella group of seven recycling associations representing 400 auto recyclers. He is also Executive Director of the Ontario Automotive Recyclers Association, a 180 member industry association. He has been active in the auto recycling industry since 1992. Contact Steve at www.autorecyclers.ca or email steve@autorecyclers.ca.

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