Live From ARA: Previewing “Generation Y’s Perspective on the Future of the Auto Recycling Industry.”

October 22, 2014

Hollander is coming to you live from ARA all week. Our booth is 417 on the exhibit floor, and will be fully staffed with APU, eBay Motors and Hollander experts ready to answer questions or just chat about the industry. But we won’t be complacent in the booth. In addition to sitting in on sessions, panels and networking, Hollander Excellence will provide new content every day to help provide the fullest experience the 71st annual ARA Convention and Exposition has to offer.

Today we talk to Jessica Andrews, Director of State Government and Grassroots Affairs at ARA, about the panel she’ll be moderating Thursday titled, “Generation Y's Perspective on the Future of the Auto Recycling Industry.” The panel will consist of Andrew MacDonald, son of ARA President Ed MacDonald and owner Maritime Auto Parts in Truro, Nova Scotia; Amber Elenbaas, a third-generation recycler and currently serving as a field rep at Rebuilders Automotive Supply; Jonathan Morrow, a third generation automotive recycler currently working for his family’s 50-year-old operation as inventory manager at M&M Auto Parts, Inc.; and Chad Counts, a general partner for CBCDashboard.

Jessica sat down with Hollander Excellence Wednesday to discuss what will make the panel worth attending as well as provide some insights on the future of the industry, ARA and the generation destined to take over both.

Q: Why were these specific members chosen to speak on this topic?

JA: I’ve met each of them throughout my two-and-a-half years working with ARA. We’ve been focusing on ways to engage the younger generation of ARA members, something I know a lot of associations are focused on. Amber’s done a lot of sessions at other state shows so I’ve seen her present and I knew she was very involved in the industry. We were looking for recycler’s that were already engaged, just up-and-coming leaders within the industry that we thought would be interesting for members here.

Q: Will the panel be covering Generation Y’s influence in the business of auto recycling, or be more reaching out and showing Gen Y the perks of buying recycled parts?

JA: I think a little bit of both. We definitely want Gen Y’s perspective on where the industry is going. I want to get (the panel’s) thoughts on how to get more recyclers, whether they are (already) in the industry, like a second or third generation owner, or if they’re already in the industry how to get them more engaged in the association, and really just where they see the industry going. This is the future of our association. In 20 to 30 years, they could be president of the association.

Q: Auto recyclers are aging. With the average age of yard owners growing, how can we encourage youth participation in the field?

JA: That’s something I want to ask them as well. Especially with this panel, it’s a family business, so a lot of younger recyclers are getting into the business that way. I’d be interested to get their thoughts on why somebody in their early 30s would want to get into the industry. I think it’s definitely a growing industry with a lot of opportunities for the future, so I’ll be curious to hear their thoughts on how we get more business owners and entrepreneurs into the industry; what type of labor and employees they need to do that and how the labor force is changing.

Q: Is that the value of having second and third generation owners (on the panel), that they a base in the business?

JA: Yes

Q: Where do you think there are strengths in the industry to appeal to the Gen Y prospective owner?

JA: I think one thing that could come out of this panel is where opportunities exist within the industry. The automotive recycling industry is changing so rapidly. Something I’m going to ask them tomorrow is since they’ve been in the industry how has it changed; given that pace of change, where the industry’s going (and) what’s it going to look like in 10, 20 years. Because vehicles are becoming more sophisticated, more technology-based, there are a lot of opportunities to engage with other industries. I think there’s a lot of opportunity for growth, so that’s something that might appeal to younger generations.

Q: Will you talk at all about marketing to the younger generation? For example, marketing as a green industry might provide a great opportunity. Is the pane  going to talk at all about marketing recycled parts to Generation Y?

JA: I’ve thought about that question. If you’re in the audience tomorrow I think that’d be a great question to ask. We are going to open it up for audience participation. I think it’s interesting because Generation Y, their demographics are changing. They’re not even buying vehicles, they’re OK walking. They’re not investing in cars, so that’s going to change the market going forward. Just from the association side, what Generation Y is looking for is different from what people were looking for from the association 30 years ago. I read an article recently (that said) associations are looking to technology and mobile apps to engage the younger generation. So one thing I wanted to ask them is what do they think about that (and) how can ARA move towards that and really engage the younger generation.

Q: How do you feel the ARA has done incorporating younger minds into the association to look into the future, do you think that’s something that still needs work, or is it something that’s being addressed right now?

JA: It’s definitely something that’s a priority for us. So many of our businesses are family businesses, so we have this natural pathway to pull in the younger generation, but it’s definitely something we want to make a priority, identifying younger leaders, when they’re coming up through the ranks and getting them involved with ARA. This panel’s a good example’s of one way of doing that, inviting them to participate in the association will help. At least for me, when I’m asked to participate in something I’m more engaged in the process or in that product.

Q: Last one, what do you think is the big draw for this session? What do you want people to walk out of (this session) with?

JA: When I first came up for the idea for this session I wanted to be a frank, interactive discussion. We’re following the big industry forecast panel. That’s an extended session and a big draw. I want to build on some the ideas that come up in that session. In our session I just want to get a glimpse of the younger segment of the ARA membership that will be so important to our success and our future. Give everybody a chance to interact with them and get perspective so that hopefully they can be the leaders of the association one day.

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