Current events make it clear that auto recyclers must unite to succeed. The 78th Annual ARA Convention & Expo brings the industry together again to enjoy in-person networking, learning and strategizing.
By Caryn Smith
Automotive recyclers are good at many things auto related, but one area the industry excels at has nothing to do with vehicles. It has to do with industry collaboration.
Few industries can say that competitors come together annually and share best practices – even secrets to success – to benefit others. The “Together We Succeed” credo comes from a rich history (78+ years) of uniting to discuss and debate the future, where recyclers have gathered with the Automotive Recyclers Association (ARA) to challenge the status quo.
This year, auto recyclers are appreciating the opportunity to gather more than ever. In the history of ARA, only 9/11 completely canceled an ARA convention. That year there was no virtual option, yet life, business and the economy continued on despite the national tragedy. On this, the 20th anniversary year of 9/11, it is apropos that after a year-long mandated global shutdown that prevented ANY assembling of ANYONE, that we all come back together for the 78th Annual ARA Convention & Expo, November 10-13, in Dallas, Texas.
Last year with all industry events canceled, ARA made a historic decision to facilitate “ARA EDGE 2020,” the first-ever virtual convention and expo for the industry. The stellar training and exposition experience offered a much-needed lifeline to many recyclers and industry vendor businesses. (EDGE 2020 sessions are located on ARAUniversity.org, under Industry Training.)
ARA wants to thank those companies that sponsored and exhibited virtually last year (see page 9.) Without their support EDGE 2020 would not have been possible.
Yet, as beneficial as it was to hold the event online, everyone knows that nothing replaces an in-person gathering for this giant industry family.
“ARA is very excited to get the community back together in Dallas,” says Scott Robertson, Jr., ARA President. “So much is happening simultaneously to impact the way we do business, it is vital we get back together to discuss what is coming. I am looking forward to co-facilitating another Recycler’s Roundtable to put these issues on the table and discuss strategies that will help us all thrive amid rapid change.”
Tackling Change Head-On
The time is now to embrace improved processes and new business models. Be “in the room” to discuss and learn from the industry’s brightest minds. With so much occurring across sectors, knowledge is vital to keeping up.
Industry companies and speakers are ready for the event. “We are excited for the upcoming in-person ARA event in November,” says Kirk Monger, Director of Sales for Hollander. “Technology did a great job keeping us all connected during the pandemic, but there is nothing like being in person with our industry friends and catching up. We are also fortunate that we can share our own Tony Graham, Solera Executive Vice President of Sales, Customer Success and Growth, as the opening keynote speaker (above left). His session, the Evolving Automotive Industry, will detail the impact of technology on the vehicle life cycle.
Closing the convention is dynamic and leadership trainer keynote speaker Heather Christie (above right). Christie shares her passion for leadership through her company, Evolve Global, where she has attained Global Award-Winning Master Coach and Trainer, as well as Certified Executive and Leadership Coach and founding member of the John Maxwell Coaching team, among other notable achievements.
Her mandate from ARA is to guide attendees through the development of a post-event action plan from the information gathered.
“Have you ever left ARA’s Convention with so many ideas that you went from excited to overwhelmed?” asks Christie. “There will be no shortage of good ideas to grow your business. The key to realizing your ROI is to sift through all of those good ideas before you leave convention to find the one that will have the greatest impact on your business. Creating a simple action plan for your team is the best way to realize your ROI from the investment that you made to attend.” You don’t want to miss this session!
Andy Latham of SalvageWire tackles advanced training in two sessions: first, the impact of “Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS)” and then, “High Voltage Vehicles.” Andy is an educated expert on these topics, for one thing, as the author of the recently revised ARA Electric and Hybrid Vehicle Technology Guide (available free to Members at ARAUniversity.org).
He notes, “ARA conventions are where influencers and leaders gather to share time together and learn from each other!”
As for his sessions, “Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) are increasingly fitted to new vehicles,” says Latham, “and can range from simple systems like blind spot monitoring to very complicated lane keeping assist and smart cruise control. Full autonomy is still some years away, but each new model or upgrade brings this situation much closer to reality. We will look at how they impact the repair process and opportunities for auto recyclers.”
“High Voltage Vehicles are very high risk,” says Latham. “I look forward to a discussion on how to stay safe when collecting, inventorying, storing and dismantling these vehicles and how to safely ship the high voltage parts to customers or final recycling.”
Shannon Nordstrom, chair of the ARA Certification Committee is joined by Sue Schauls in the “Environmental Ethos” session which explores the practices of an environmentally conscious recycler. They de-mystify the process of compliance, ease of the new online certification process, and how most auto recyclers are already doing all the things needed to certify their facility.
In “The Future of Mobility: Recycling Converters, Batteries, Sensors, ECUs & More,” an esteemed panel from Umicore, Spiers New Technologies, Cox Automotive, and UCC explore this revolutionary vehicle technology. What does autonomous driving, connectivity, electrification of vehicles, and shared mobility mean for automotive recycling? These companies are actively working on solutions that auto recyclers can learn from and leverage.
Speaker Ryan Mandell has worked in an automotive recycling environment prior to joining Mitchell International, and therefore understands how change impacts the recycler’s workflow. At Mitchell, as Director, Claims Performance – Auto Physical Damage Solution, he explores the data and brings real understanding, and profit center ideas, to auto recyclers. His session, “Digitizing Parts Sourcing: Strategies for Optimizing Your Business to Capitalize on the Growth of Estimate Automation,” is guaranteed to help you navigate macro trends taking place in the auto insurance industry, namely AI, and how recyclers can put this data to use and best position their businesses to capitalize on the wave of automation that is on the horizon.
“By the year 2030, consulting firm McKinsey and Company estimates that over half of all auto claims functions will be replaced by automation” notes Mandell. “I’m excited to offer recyclers insights into the evolution of estimate automation in particular and how they can set themselves up for success in this environment. We’re going to attack this topic in two sessions; the first will share from the wealth of data we have access to at Mitchell and what this shift toward automation means for the industry as a whole. And the second will bring together leaders from insurance, collision repair, and recycling to get some first-hand understanding of how each business is changing as a result of automation and how recyclers can maximize their profitability as a result of this change.”
In addtion to these education opportunities, ARA has planned another fun and informational activity for attendees – a Facility Tour at Fenix Parts and then networking, with dinner by Junior Cooley BBQ. The night continues with another fun tour at DFW Elite Toy Museum. This will be a night to remember!
On the show floor, meet with many quality vendors that are ready to share their innovations with attendees at one of the largest industry expos around! (See page 43.)
One sponsor sums up what most are feeling. “After missing everyone last year, we are most excited to catch up with our customers that we haven’t see in person for a long time and make new connections with new suppliers,” says Cliff Hope, Senior Account Manager at PMR INC. “PMR believes strongly that our values and goals as a vendor are closely paired with ARA and its continued mission to educate and lobby government on the behalf of its membership. We chose to sponsor organizations that share a similar vision.”
Echoing those sentiments, “With how this last year or so has panned out, we think it’s important now more than ever to support the industry as well as get some face time in with our great partners,” says RueDee Mikovich, VP, Strategic
Partnerships at Peddle, Get Used Parts. “It’s important for us to sponsor ARA as they directly support and advocate for auto recyclers of this industry whom we also value and support through our own business.”
Whether for the sessions, networking or finding new business relationships at the expo, ARA’s Executive Director Sandy Blalock just wants you there – for your ultimate benefit.
“This year, we really want auto recyclers to see farther into the future than the day-to-day, or even the year ahead,” says Sandy Blalock. “Our industry needs to embrace what is coming and change accordingly. There are really no excuses for not knowing what is ahead, when opportunities like ARA’s annual convention exist to share this information. ARA is there every step of the way to help auto recyclers who want to advance their business. We hope recyclers take advantage of them.”
It Is Not All Work
From the Past President’s Reception at the opening night of the Exposition, to the final event – the Facility Tour, with the Annual ARA Awards Dinner in between, there is plenty of time for networking, conversations and meeting new people. There is so much for everyone, so bring your team too! In fact, ARA is hosting a “Tag Your Team Swag” contest, encouraging companies to dress out in their company attire as a team. Chosen winners get great prizes. See the ARA website for more details!
Registration and hotel accommodations links are available at www.a-r-a.org/convention.html.
Caryn Smith is the editor of Automotive Recycling magazine, and has been covering the industry for over 20 years. She is a freelance writer for industry publications, such as Recycling Today.