By Mike Davey
Toronto, Ontario -- April 12, 2017 -- Automotive recyclers would be wise to line up their tactics with broader governmental policy. That was one of the messages delivered by Steve Fletcher, Executive Director of the Ontario Automotive Recyclers Association (OARA). He made the remarks at the 2017 OARA Convention and Trade Show, following a presentation by Peter Hargreave of the Ontario Waste Management Association. The convention took place at the Hilton Toronto/Markham Suites Conference Centre in Markham, Ontario.
Hargreave's presentation, Auto Recyclers and the Circular Economy, led off the conference and outlined how new and upcoming legislation and higher demands from government would impact recyclers. Hargreave pointed out that the future will require investment, but this is not necessarily a bad thing.
"There's an opportunity to invest in infrastructure that will drive value up," he said. In other words, an investment by a recycler today will make the business more profitable and more valuable in the future.
Joe Ferrazo and Jordan Schware of Hollander followed, looking at the barriers for Canadian recyclers who want to sell into the US. At roughly 10 times the population of Canada, the US has a lot of opportunities for parts sales. Ferrazo and Schware outlined how to remove the obstacles to reaching this market, and how digital technology is helping to pave the way.
"Selling on eBay isn't the easiest thing in the world," said Schware. "Selling anywhere isn't the easiest thing in the world."
Andrew Horsman of Ontario Tire Stewardship (OTS) was next to the podium. Many may remember that OTS has come under fire in the last year and criticized for mismanagement.
Horsman was quick to point out that none of the issues that have plagued the program can be laid at the door of auto recyclers, who are simply collecting the tires. As for the program itself, Horsman also noted that diversion targets had not only been met, but exceeded. He also made it clear that tire collection in Ontario would continue, but not under OTS. The shape of the future program is still under debate.
"What will replace OTS? The unsatisfying answer I can give you today is 'I don't know,'" said Horsman.
The tire collection program in Ontario has certainly succeeded on many levels. The next presentation served as a powerful reminder of its human impact. OARA has been running a special program called Tire Take Back for a number of years, with all funds collected during certain days donated to the Sunshine Foundation, a charitable organization that helps extremely ill children. The help often takes the form of a "Dreamlift," a whirlwind trip with many children and volunteers to an exciting location, such as Disneyland. To date, Ontario's auto recyclers have donated over $1 million to this program.
This year's convention featured a special presentation of gifts to one little girl, Nethalyu, and her family, as well as the official donation to the Sunshine Foundation. The presentation was made by special guest Princess Elsa, well-known for her role in the movie Frozen. Eagle-eyed attendees may have noticed a resemblance between Princess Elsa and Lisa Sticca of Thunder Bay Auto Parts, but we have been assured that this is entirely coincidental.
This year's keynote speaker was Paul D'Adamo of Recycling Growth. D'Adamo entered the recycling business to help his father-in-law run a recycling yard he had purchased as a retirement project. The project soon turned out to be much bigger than either of them had anticipated. D'Adamo has never run a business before, much less a recycling yard, but he attacked the project with gusto. Over the following 15 years they improved the business significantly. D'Adamo decided to take what he learned on the road, working as a consultant and speaker.
D'Adamo's first presentation at the conference focused on how managers could take stock in themselves and identify what they needed to deal with, and what should be left by the wayside. He's a high-energy speaker who is very strong on visuals. He even brought out some fruit to illustrate his points.
"You might think we're selling auto parts. Wrong! We're in the produce business," he said, pointing out that the shelf-life of a part may be very limited, just like produce. If it won't sell within a certain time frame, it likely won't sell at all: "You're buying produce. What happens if you let it stay on the vine?"
Further presentations on the first day included Scott Sterling and Jimena Caicedo of Ontario's Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change on new end-of-life vehicle regulations and Eric Marello of APU Solutions on automated procurement solutions.
The Trade Show portion of the event opened immediately following the morning's presentations. This year's event featured over 60 exhibitors. The first day of the 2017 Convention concluded with a Charity Casino and live auction in support of the OARA Employee Scholarship Program.
The second day of the conference followed a split schedule, with the Hollander Training Summit running concurrently with presentations in the main hall. The Summit included personalized training on many Hollander systems, including Hollander Powerlink, Production Management and EDEN.
In the main hall, Paul D'Adamo returned for his second presentation, this time focusing on how recyclers can give their inventory the Heimlich Maneuver. It's an apt metaphor, according to D'Adamo. Excessive inventory that isn't selling can choke a recycling business. To clear it, you first have to identify what's causing the blockage.
"We found the blockage, folks. It's us," he said. D'Adamo noted that automotive recyclers often have something of an emotional attachment to their inventory, and this must fall by the wayside to make the business as efficient as possible.
Marty Hollingshead of North Lake Auto Recyclers followed, discussing the importance of data to the modern world and recycling operations in particular. Holllingshead summed up just how important data is by pointing out that Google and Facebook have a combined value that is nearly as high as that of 10 major industrial companies combined. Hollingshead ran over some of the biggest threats and noted how recyclers can limit their exposure by taking some very basic steps.
"How many of you changed your passwords in the last month," he asked. "How many people have it as 'password?'"
The second day concluded with a panel discussion moderated by Paul D'Adamo and consisting of panelists Bruce Woodbeck of Woodbeck Auto Parts, Dom Vetere of Dom's Auto Parts, Dalbert Livingstone of Island Auto Supply and Andrew MacDonald of Maritime Auto Parts.
At the conclusion of the panel, Steve Fletcher of OARA presented D'Adamo with a bottle of maple syrup, naming him an Honourary Canadian.
For more information, please visit oara.com.