From Oct. 31 through Nov. 3, the Automotive Recycling Association (ARA) held its 75th Annual Convention and Exposition at the Walt Disney World Dolphin Resort in Orlando, FL.
Fourteen countries were represented, with industry professionals traveling from as far away as the United Kingdom, Australia, Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Japan, Netherlands, New Zealand, Peru, Poland and South Korea.
According to Sandy Blalock, executive director for ARA, “Nearly 900 professional automotive recyclers, industry vendors, suppliers and supporters made the trip to celebrate the association’s 75th anniversary at the happiest place on Earth: Walt Disney World.”
The largest annual meeting of the professional automotive recycling industry in the world, ARA’s Annual Convention and Exposition provides a unique opportunity for attendees to network with one another and obtain top tier training.
“Association-sponsored events like the ARA Convention provide significant education and networking opportunities, two of the most beneficial reasons that attendees [keep] coming back year after year,” Blalock explained. “Networking opportunities are one of the main reasons that automotive recyclers and industry suppliers attend year after year. These opportunities are priceless and allow automotive recyclers to benchmark themselves and their peers in the industry in order to learn from each other. The automotive recycling industry is unique in that a large percentage of businesses are family-owned and multi-generational, which really brings a family atmosphere to this annual gathering.
“Speakers ranged from fellow recyclers, governmental officials and industry experts. ARA debuted new peer-to-peer panels for both full-service and self-service operations, which proved to be among the most popular sessions. Our members need to stay informed on the latest developments and trends in the automotive repair industry. ARA’s Annual Convention, as well as ARA affiliate chapter association events, serve as a means of providing this type of vital information. The networking and information-sharing that take place at these events also provide insight to our association leaders and staff that helps determine the direction of current and future ARA initiatives---it’s where we take the pulse of the industry.”
The convention and exposition also provides ARA leaders with an opportunity to showcase member benefits and promote the association’s value by highlighting the products and services only offered by ARA. Talking to members also provides the association’s staff with a better understanding of their members’ needs.
During the convention, Jonathan Morrow of M&M Auto Parts in Virginia succeeded David Gold from Standard Auto Wreckers as the association’s president. Additionally, ARA recognized some of the industry’s best by distributing several awards. The Automotive Recyclers Association of Rhode Island received the Affiliate Chapter of the Year award, and Shan McMillon of Cocoa Auto Salvage in Florida was recognized as Regional Director of the Year. Nordstrom’s Automotive in South Dakota received the CAR Member of the Year award, while Gold Seal Member of the Year was awarded to Counselman’s Automotive Recycling in Alabama. CIECA’S Fred Iantorno received the Apple Award, Car-Part’s Roger Schroder was honored as Member of the Year, and the coveted President’s Award was bestowed upon Jeff Schroder of Car-Part.
Blalock added, “Many new programming features were debuted this year, including a Big Beach Bash that automotive recyclers and their entire families could enjoy. Attendees enjoyed the event, and the feedback has been positive. We have many volunteers, including recyclers and vendors, who work collaboratively all year to plan a program that meets the needs of our dynamic industry. I believe the event measured up to all of our expectations.”
ARA's 76th Annual Convention & Exposition will take place Oct. 10--13, 2019 in Charlotte, NC. For more information about ARA, visit a-r-a.org.