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Together we succeed when navigating change

As automotive recyclers come together to reconnect, retool and recharge at the 78th Annual ARA Convention & Expo, they will evaluate the impact of industry changes and work together for success.

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September 10, 2021

Automotive recyclers are good at many things auto related, but one thing 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 and share processes and best practices, even secrets to success, to benefit others, on an annual basis. The “together we succeed” credo comes from a rich history (more than 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 and business continued despite the national tragedy—and auto recyclers could still assemble for state shows. On this 20th anniversary of 9/11, it is appropriate that after a yearlong mandated global shutdown that prevented in-person events that we all come back together for the 78th Annual ARA Convention & Expo Nov. 11-14 in Dallas.

Last year with many industry events canceled, ARA made a historic decision to facilitate “ARA EDGE 2020,” a virtual convention and expo for the industry. The training and exposition experience offered a much-needed lifeline to many recyclers and industry vendor businesses. Those sessions can be found at ARAUniversity.org under Industry Training.

Yet, as beneficial as it was to host the event online, 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, 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. It is best to be “in the room” to discuss and learn from the industry’s brightest minds.

Keynote speaker Tony Graham, Solera’s executive vice president of sales, customer success and growth, will bring insight into industry changes from the bird’s-eye perspective.

Andy Latham, founder and CEO at Salvage Wire, will tackle advanced training in two different sessions: first, the impact of advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) and then high voltage vehicles. Latham is one of the educated experts on these topics as the author of the recently revised "ARA Electric and Hybrid Vehicle Technology Guide," which is available as a free download from ARAUniversity.org.

In another session, Latham is joined by Shannon Nordstrom and others to discuss e-certification. Electric vehicle certification and its importance in the greater automotive repair industry (collision and mechanical) is rising. It could become a necessity in the future.

Pat Huesers and Mike Meyer of Pam’s Auto, Certified Auto Recycler of the Year recipient, will discuss how consistent customer service and business policy will grow profits. The session will explore policies for credit cards, returns and warranties, body cuts, customer resolution and more.

In a session titled The Future of Mobility: Recycling Converters, Batteries, Sensors, ECUs & More, an esteemed panel from Umicore, Spiers New Technologies, Cox Automotive and United Catalyst Corp. will explore this vehicle technology. What does autonomous driving, connectivity, electrification of vehicles and shared mobility will 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 software provider Mitchell International and, therefore, understands how change impacts the recycler’s workflow. At Mitchell, he explores the data and brings real understanding and profit center ideas to auto recyclers. His session, The Coming World of Estimate Automation and Making Sure Your Business Is Prepared, will help attendees navigate the macro trends taking place in the auto insurance industry, namely artificial intelligence (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.

Other sessions explore mentoring, yard valuation, batteries, best business practices, leadership, self-service best practices and more. On the exposition floor, attendees can meet with more than 100 businesses as well.

“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, ARA executive director. “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 them.”

It's not all work

In addition to educational sessions, ARA’s conventions always include networking components for attendees. The convention will include the Past President’s reception opening night, the Annual ARA Awards Dinner and a facility tour to wrap everything up, providing plenty of opportunities for networking.

Registration and accommodations links are available now at www.a-r-a.org/convention.html.

Caryn Smith is the editor of Automotive Recycling magazine and Recycler’s ToolBox magazine, both published by the Automotive Recyclers Association. She has been covering the automotive recycling industry for more than 20 years. For more information and updates, visit www.a-r-a.org/convention.