Together for the first time since 2019
Column by STEVE FLETCHER
Well, the two-year wait is over—the Ontario Automotive Recyclers Association (OARA) held its long delayed Annual Convention & Trade Show at the end of March. The results and next steps are still pouring in.
Like many things, the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted the regular in—person meetings and events that have been the lifeblood of the auto recycling industry. The pivot to online meetings and training, while useful, were no match for the energy that comes from in-person get-togethers.
Many don’t realize that up to 30 percent of an average auto recyclers sales are to other auto recyclers–it is getting increasingly difficult to satisfy all part requests for all makes and models, so auto recyclers have developed sophisticated inventory-sharing systems, networks and logistics to sell to other auto recyclers to satisfy demand. Those relationships and sharing often originate at these auto recycling conventions.
This year, 2022, was no different—perhaps even super-charged with energy as the industry clamoured to get back together. There was pent-up demand to get together–the energy was palpable.
Along with the regular vendor-delegate interactions, committee meetings, presentations and training–the informal conversations over a beverage, hallway meetings, and physical presence generated numerous productive and profitable interactions.
The event is also a great opportunity to engage with insurers, repairers, OEMs, media and other industry associations. It provides auto recyclers to show their industry in a favourable light and to seek out further partnerships and opportunities.
While the event itself was success, what comes out of the event is just as important. The 2023 event is already in the works (March 30-April 1, 2023, back at the Hilton Meadowvale) with some improvements and streamlining underway. The pandemic also reminded a lot of people of the importance of family, and we want to make sure members and their employees time away is well spent. We purposively gave our keynote speakers from Profit Team Consulting at lot of airtimes at the event and that came at the expense of our great vendors providing updates on the latest and greatest from their product and service lines.
That spawned the Spring Training Webinar Series with online training from VINMatch Pro, Car-Part. com, Einstein Pricing and EZ Suite over May and June. We will add more online training in the future–as vendors see the power of presenting to Canada’s top auto recyclers, they are lining up for future sessions. While on-line training is no match for in-person, you cannot beat the ease and cost of attending (and recording for future use). No need to wait a whole year to keep advancing and keep the momentum. We have had some very active sub— committee work coming out of the Annual General Meeting—Shipping Supplies; EASR Compliance Investigations and Reporting; Social Media Marketing & Advertising; Outreach to Municipalities; Towing Licensing; Electric Vehicle Roadmap for Auto Recycling. This Committee and Task Force work is critical to the association (and industry) advance on important policy initiatives and Member Benefits.
We welcomed our newest OARA Board Member—Marc Plazek from Plazek Auto Recycling and the Board has reconvened its monthly calls to plan for the future. That first call was long and so productive! And finally, we are set to issue 10 scholarships for the OARA Employee Scholarship Program with the $25,000 raised at the Convention.
By my calculations, this was the 49th industry event that I have organized for auto recyclers. Probably the most fun I have had at one, and probably the most productive in terms of work initiated and accomplished. Along with friends seen and made— relationships that will last forever.
STEVE FLETCHER is the managing director of the Automotive Recyclers of Canada. He can be reached at email@example.com.