Tuesday, 29 July 2014 00:00

ARA Holds ‘Hill Days’ to Discuss Industry Concerns with Congress

On June 18 and 19, professional automotive recyclers from over 20 states gathered in Washington, DC to participate in the Automotive Recyclers Association’s (ARA) annual Capitol Hill Days. As the group met with their Members of Congress to educate them about the automotive recycling industry, ARA members requested support from federal representatives to require automotive manufacturers provide OE parts data to recycled parts inventory management systems, inclusion of recycled OEM parts in repair options for vehicles in the Federal Fleet, and for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to continue relying on best management practices to control stormwater pollutants.
According to Michael Wilson, CEO of ARA, “Much interest was generated from these visits. Specifically, members of the Michigan, Ohio and Kentucky congressional delegations expressed interest in helping ARA advance these issues as well as discussed touring professional automotive recycling facilities when they were back in their districts.”
Following these visits, a Small Business Administration official and representatives from two major national business associations formed a Business Panel in the House Budget Committee hearing room, giving ARA members an opportunity to ask questions about health care, tax reform, recycling, and regulatory burdens on small businesses.

Recyclers participating in ARA’s Hill Days consisted of both returning members and first-time participants. Wilson notes, “ARA members look forward to this annual event to reconnect with their legislators and to update them on issues affecting the industry on the national, state and local levels. Those automotive recyclers who are frequent Hill Day attendees enjoy visiting with members and staff who are now familiar with the profession and our issues…Issues surrounding automotive manufacturers’ recalls and the safety ramifications surrounding those vehicle parts have been all over the news and have generated much interest within the entire automotive sector. This provided a critical opportunity for professional automotive recyclers to talk with policymakers about their need for those OE parts numbers.”
As the only professional association whose sole purpose is to promote a fair, open marketplace for OEM recycled parts, ARA holds its annual Hill Days as a means of reinforcing year-long efforts to elicit congressional support for critical issues impacting the industry. Often, the relationships formed during Hill Days allow for working more closely with Congressional representatives when they return to their districts, and it gives politically active ARA members a means of meeting more effectively at a federal level.
Wilson adds, “ARA members are uniquely qualified to communicate with policymakers to help them understand the value of recycled automotive parts and make sure they have access to valid, reliable information about the industry. When professional automotive recyclers speak with one consistent voice, our industry has more influence, and the efforts of ARA staff to represent the profession here in Washington are strengthened. For example, ARA staff recently made nearly two dozen visits to Congressional offices about automotive manufacturers’ recalls and the safety ramifications surrounding those vehicle parts. Having ARA members up on the Hill to further engage their elected officials about this issue helps keep the pressure on automakers to make this information available.”
Since their event, ARA has received positive feedback from attendees. ARA members were on the Hill mere hours after General Motors CEO Mary Barra testified a second time about the massive ignition switch recall, and ARA published a press release urging GM to adhere to their “New Industry Standard for Safety” by providing recyclers with access to important OEM parts data.
Nearly a third of ARA members’ visits were with actual Members of Congress. “Coincidentally, many of our members’ Hill appointments  were scheduled at the same time that Republicans met to elect a new House Majority leader after Eric Cantor’s stunning defeat,” Wilson recounts; “however, the energy and adrenaline caused by the impending vote helped drive conversation about the future of the congressional Republican leadership, and many ARA members were able to engage in dialogue on this issue in addition to ARA’s prepared policy objectives. ARA staff is now in the process of following up with the Congressional offices that were visited.”
Representing over 1200 professional automotive recyclers, through direct and affiliated chapters in the US and 14 countries internationally, ARA has found that, though their members’ business models are all unique, there is a lot of commonality in the issues facing the profession. Wilson believes that association-sponsored events, like Hill Days, bring recyclers and industry supporters together, and “there is no better way to prepare for future success, learn of new products, programs and services, discuss the top issues impacting the profession, and network with industry partners than by joining with colleagues at these events. Since our members are so geographically diverse, these events allow for professional automotive recyclers and their industry partners to meet face-to-face to discuss and plan how best to address the latest challenges and opportunities. By coming together at these annual association events, recyclers grow stronger and present a lucrative profession to the industry.”
Next on ARA’s agenda is their 71st Annual Convention and Exposition which will be held October 22-25, 2014 at the Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention Center in Nashville, Tennessee. According to Wilson, “ARA leadership continues to enhance the quality of this event and has assembled top-notch speakers, focusing on the tools needed to achieve long-term success and the broader trends impacting the entire automotive parts market.” Visit www.araexpo.org for more information on the Convention or to register to attend.

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