INCARES: Are you proving your competence?

ARI News - April/May 2015

For this edition of ARI News I am sharing an article that Mike James of James Environmental Management, Inc. (JEM) in Round Rock, Texas shared with me.  Mike has been a part of our industry for a long time.  He and I have begun working together to be able to bring excellent environmental and safety compliance consulting to auto recyclers nationwide.  Mike is a business associate, a mentor, and a friend.  I make like a sponge when he talks because he’s been around the block a time or two.  He sees the big picture for our industry.  Mike’s stance is that we, as an industry, need to send a message about our competence.  We need to run the “junk yard mentality” out of our minds, our customers’ minds, and the regulator’s minds.  I hope that his article hits home for you like it did for me.  


Is it important to prove it? How do you prove it?

By: Mike James, James Environmental Management, Inc.

There must have been thousands of articles written about businesses and industries over the past decades talking about credibility. And many times credibility is confused with competence. They are not synonymous but it is difficult to discuss one without discussing the other.

We can have competence through many avenues, but if we do not have credibility it is difficult to prove to the person on the other end of the phone or the other side of the counter that we are worthy of their business. JEM is unmatched in competence. We have represented hundreds of recyclers through the most complicated OSHA Audits or Environmental Audits. But, just because we have the competence through 40 years of experience and education, it does not mean that we can rest on our laurels, nor does it mean that we can stop working on our credibility and our ability to perform for our clients. None of us is competent just because we say we are.

So, what is happening with the auto recycler today? There are those that are still trying to portray the modern auto recycling facility as a “junk yard” that sells second hand parts. If you don’t believe that is what some are thinking then watch some of the news reports and read about the battles between the insurance companies and the auto repair industry. This industry, our industry, is suffering a threatening affront to its credibility. It is time for every one of us to step up.

One of the ways to prove your credibility is by not only portraying your competence in the subject matter (dismantling cars and selling parts) but by displaying competence as a business leader in your industry and your community. One of the ways you prove this credibility is through some form of industry-recognized stamp of leadership and public verification of your competence. What is the Certified Automotive Recycler Program if it is not a stamp of leadership and a public portrayal of your competency and your leadership in your industry? There is value in numbers when battling some of the issues the industry is battling today. But, those numbers must truly represent the best of the best. It cannot become a rubber stamp process to become certified. The industry Certification Committee is in a continuous improvement mode of review and change of what certification means. It is imperative for the survival of the industry that certification represents the “cream of the crop”. There will always be dissenters, telling us that the certification program is too tough or worse yet that it really means nothing because it is no big deal to get certified. But it should always be extremely difficult for the “junk yard” that causes the negative publicity for everybody in the industry to be certified. Being certified is not an expensive proposition. It does require work. Being certified must be a badge of honor that displays your business not only as competent but, more importantly, as one with credibility.

ARA maintains the Certified Automotive Recycler Program in concert with the Gold Seal Program. Some years ago, many of the recyclers with credibility ran their businesses under the umbrella of the URG 8000 program which was originally modeled loosely after the ISO 9001. There is some conversation that a newer form of certification may become available modeled after ISO 9001 again. I recently watched Anderson Cooper’s misrepresentation of an industry we all think is a pretty good place to work. It cannot be overstated that many of the certified facilities I know have the competency and, more importantly, the credibility not to sell a damaged headlight. Some years ago I needed a transfer case for a Nissan 4x4 for one of my sons. There is absolutely no way I would endanger my son’s life as portrayed in Anderson Cooper’s article and there was also no way I was going to buy a transfer case from a “junk yard”. I bought that part from a world class auto recycler in Binghamton, NY that was both CAR certified and URG 8000 certified.

So, what is the message here? Recyclers representing the industry and demonstrating the penultimate of credibility “certification” are too few. Competence is not enough. It is imperative that, whether you are selling auto parts or safety and environmental consulting, you have credibility as a provider of quality products. We all know you might not be able to buy a quality part from a “junk yard”, but we certainly know that you can buy a quality part from a Certified Auto Recycler.

What are you doing in your community or state to change the perception of your credibility? One thing that you must do is to be engaged. Make your Affiliate Chapter Certification mean something. Be involved in the discussion of the phrase “junk yard”. In too many ordinances, this is the one definition of a recycler. Get involved and help make the change to bring your business to one with credibility. Get certified. We all have to face the facts. Two or three hundred certified recyclers is not even close to the number we must have in order to change the misrepresentation that has been thrown at us in recent months. Put it in gear; if you have a quality problem, fix it. If your housekeeping is not good, fix it. If you are not certified, fix it. If your business lacks credibility, fix it. If you will do all of that and do it today, the whole subject of competence can be eliminated. Be a part of the solution!

Sara HamidovicComment