East Coast Auto Salvage Attends the Annual ARA Convention in Kansas City

Last Tuesday afternoon, Bill, German and I headed down to Kansas City Missouri to attend the 65th annual Automotive Recyclers Association convention. We arrived early this year to listen in on some of the committee meetings that took place on Wednesday. We were interested to see what ARA has been up to this past year and we were impressed with all that we heard. The committees deal with a myriad of important issues within the industry; everything from setting standards for used parts grading, customer service and facility operations to the legal and government issues that affect our business. Aside from these important issues the association also dedicates efforts to raising money for a scholarship foundation. We found the convention to be filled with informative sessions that will help improve the way we do business. We hope that we can put into practice all that we have learned to better service our customers. Below I have shared a few photos and some highlights from our experience at the ARA Convention 2008.

“How to Dismantle Hybrids Safely” Seminar – Presented by James Moore of Delphi ISS (www.delphi-iss.com) this seminar provided attendees with valuable information about dismantling Hybrid vehicles; a topic that has been looming in the background with advances in hybrid technology but now is an issue at hand in the automotive recycling world as more and more hybrids hit the road (quite literally). Many of the traditional methods of dismantling a wrecked car do not apply to hybrid vehicles and they present safety issues that have never been dealt with before. The one and a half hour presentation was packed with detailed information about the different types of hybrid vehicles and how they function, the salvageable parts and the safe handing of the hybrids high voltage system. From a recyclers point of view I was inspired to begin training here at East Coast so we can begin dismantling and stocking used OEM hybrids parts as the demand for these parts increases. It would be a daunting task if we had to figure it out on own but we are very fortunate that there are so many resources available. ARA offers video training through the ARA University website (www.arauniversity.com) and then there are local training centers such as ACDC based out of Massachusetts (www.auto-careers.org) that offer in depth hands-on instruction. Once we complete training we are looking forward to helping meet the demand for recycled hybrid parts in the near future.

James Moore speaks about Hybrids

ARA University – There were two seminars presented on Friday, “Wanted – Great People” and “Turn Your Employees into Superstars” that featured ARA-U (www.arauniversity.com). I had heard only positive things about ARA-U in the past but didn’t quite realize that it is not only a resource for the automotive recyclers but for anyone who is buying recycled parts and wants to educate themselves about parts descriptions and grading. As a recycler I am excited to use this tool to train our employees and keep on top of advances within the industry like Hybrid technology and legal matters. We can also turn to ARA-U for motivation with videos of “The Doctor” himself – DJ Harrington.

DJ Harrington Touts the Benefits of ARA University

Yard Tour and BBQ – On Friday evening we were invited to tour one of the local salvage yards in Kansas City. It was a great event with delicious BBQ, live music and equipment demonstrations. Be sure to check out my video on YouTube of the engine puller. The ARA also used the event to raise money for charity – specifically the ARA Scholarship Foundation, which awards scholarships to students based on academic achievements. There were all kinds of prizes raffled off and a Texas Hold’em Tournament which raised thousands of dollars for the foundation.

Texas Hold'em Poker to Support the ARA Scholarship Fund

“Women Under the Hood” Seminar – This was an outstanding presentation by three accomplished woman in the industry; Fran Reitman, Krystyn Roberts and Kelly Roepke. They all spoke of how they became involved in automotive recycling and shared their individual experiences learning how to balance work and family. As a woman in the industry I found it a particularly interesting and inspirational seminar. Like many automotive related fields, the auto recycling industry is also heavily male dominated. However several women have come along that have fought their way to be respected and have made a name for themselves. This year the incoming president will be the third woman to hold the position and all three have done exceedingly well in their own auto recycling businesses as well as brought value and progression to the association. I applaud ARA for dedicating a time for these women to share their business experiences and open up discussion about what a good industry it is to work in, whether you are male or female.

Fran Reitman Speaks at the Women Under the Hood Seminar

Annual Networking Dinner – The dinner was a wonderful way to end the convention and perfect way to present the succession of past ARA President Sandy Blalock to current President Linda Pitman. Not only was it a good meal and commendable awards ceremony, the ARA also took one last opportunity to raise more funds for the Scholarship Foundation. A full sized car-themed quilt made by Linda Pitman that was auctioned off in 1995 to raise money for the association was re-presented by its owner to be auctioned off that evening. Of course its value has drastically increased now that its maker is the incoming President of ARA. The former owner also agreed to match whatever price the quilt brought that evening. The winning bid was for over $12,000, which raised nearly $25,000 for the scholarship fund. I personally feel very proud to be a member of an association that not only hosts such an informative convention for people within the industry but also emphasizes the importance of education by supporting such a worthy cause.

Quilt by Linda Pitman Auctioned Off at Networking Dinner

Quilt by Linda Pitman Auctioned Off at Networking Dinner to Support ARA Scholarship Fund

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