According to Michael Wilson, Chief Executive Officer of ARA, "Attendees to ARA's Expo rely on quality educational programming during the convention, and this year, ARA offered sessions on how to both increase profits and how to promote businesses in the long term. In addition, keynote speakers from Newell Recycling and Solera shared information on the challenges facing the industry and successes already achieved. A special session also occurred during which ARA officials and special guest former Congressman Tom Latham (R-IA) reported to members on the status of the association's efforts to gain access to OEM parts data."
Wilson continued, "In addition to getting a lot out of the educational sessions, attendees enjoyed multiple networking opportunities to network with colleagues, renew friendships, and build new partnerships. It is the obvious camaraderie, peer support, and genuine compassion that ARA members have for and with another that defines the association's annual conventions and that compels long-standing attendees and newcomers alike from around the world to participate in this premiere ARA event."
This year’s convention featured 35 educational sessions presented by industry experts, leaders and favorites. Speakers included Amber Kendrick, Tanvir Arfi, Lawrie Beacham, Becky Berube, Sandy Blalock, John Cahill, Mark Carr, Terry Charlton, JC Chastain, Chad Counselman, Chad Counts, Robert Counts, Hannah Cross, Benny Cunningham, Paul D’Adamo, Don Elliott, Joe Ferrazzo, Steve Fletcher, Chris Forstik, Mike James, Andy Latham, Tom Latham, Ed MacDonald, Jim McKinney and George Metos, among others.
ARA’s 72nd Annual Convention and Expo opened registration on Wednesday morning with an Affiliate Chapters meeting at 11:30AM. That afternoon, the ARA Past Presidents Luncheon was followed by an open Board of Directors meeting. The day concluded with a yard tour and BBQ at Matlock’s Used Cars and Parts.
Thursday morning’s agenda began with an Educational Foundation Committee and Scholarship Foundation Committee as well as a Takata Airbag Litigation Update. Educational seminars included “7 Drivers of Faster Growth and Profits,” “State of the Salvage Market: Volume, Value and Tackling Illegal Operators in the UK and US,” “Three Things You Need to Do to Survive and Grow,” “Collision Advice: Gain Insight to Your Collision Customers,” “Core Technology: Tools for Tracking Profits in Full and Self-Service Yards,” and “Exit Planning: How to Build a Business You can Leave with Pride.”
At noon, ARA held their Annual Membership Meeting and Committee Reports before resuming the educational programming. Nine sessions were offered on Thursday afternoon, ranging from “Building a Safety Culture” to legislative updates to “Separating Your Business Assets from Your Personal Assets.” The day ended with a keynote presentation on “History and Future of Auto Shredding,” but the evening continued with the opening of the expo floor along with the Past Presidents' Reception.
Friday's agenda commenced with a hospitality suite and the Ladies of ARA’s breakfast. The morning was filled with a variety of informative sessions, such as “The Black Hole: What You Don’t Know about Cores and Commodities” and seminars on recalls and shipping. The morning concluded with the event’s second keynote presentation: “How the Digital Age is Empowering the Consumer.”
The expo floor opened shortly after the speech ended and ran four hours, boasting over 110 exhibitors. During that time, ARA members were able to attend ARA's several committee meetings, discussing issues related to CAR, Electronic Commerce,r Government Affairs, and political action.
Friday evening concluded with ARA’s Awards Dinner and Presidential Gavel Ceremony. Wilson states, “It was not to be missed – all looked great adorned in their racing black and white, and the association’s STAR Awards and new slate of officers were announced. Mike Swift of Trails End Auto and Truck Salvage, Inc. in Des Moines, IA was installed as ARA’s new President, and Jonathan Morrow of M&M Auto Parts of Stafford, VA was welcomed as the newest member and Secretary of the ARA Executive Committee.
The expo floor reopened on Saturday from 8AM until noon. Some of the exhibitors included BASF, Car-Part.com, CCC Information Services, Global Refining Group, Knopf Automotive, MCI Cores, Parts Trader, Recyclers Power Source, SAS Forks, Umicore USA, United Recyclers Group, and Vortex De-Pollution, among many others.
During Saturday’s expo, ARA’s Events Advisory, Technical Advisory, Gold Seal and Safety Committees met. There were nine various sessions offered on Saturday afternoon with a plethora of topic options including everything from e-Commerce to electronic procurement, OSHA audits, benchmarking and even how to make better choices.
Convention attendees were very receptive to the variety of seminars, gaining much insight into various aspects of the industry.
Wilson stated, “All the sessions were well-attended and the participants provided positive feedback, stating that the educational programming reflected just the right balance between the issues related to the market, quality, safety and association matters.”
Although the event was slated to conclude with the Bank of America 500 at the Charlotte Motor Speedway, inclement weather forced the race to be postponed. The group then relocated their festivities indoors and engaged in a memorable evening of networking and socializing with old and new friends.
ARA will hold the 2016 Annual Convention and Expo on October 26-29 in Baltimore, MD.