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Industry Question: “Do Industry conferences and trade shows meet the needs of you and your staff? Why or why not? What changes do you suggest?”

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It would be nice if the local events could draw better

The auto recycler is not attending the state meetings like they once did. The national events are still well attended. The number of new people is still growing at URG & ARA but the overall number of auto recyclers looking to advance their education, network with like businesses and try and learn how to grow from others seems to be waning. It would be nice if the local events could draw better and our industry would benefit from that time spent together, generating ideas to enhance the market, instead of taking business from each other.

Mike Kunkel

Mike Kunkel

Mike Kunkel, Profit Team Consulting, Ft. Worth, TX

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I really miss the It Event type trade show

I would recommend having the conferences in the middle of the country. If this is not possible, maybe have an East Coast and a West Coast event. I used to love URG when it was in Colorado. Our yard is in Northern California and it costs too much in time and money to travel much past Colorado for an event. Having a business in CA, if I require my staff to attend a business conference, I must pay them while they are traveling and this also includes overtime. As a result, I very seldom would send any staff to a conference. We did attend a sales meeting in Dallas once. I also took my sales manager to the “IT Show” in North Carolina many years ago.

I really miss the IT type show. I found these to be the most beneficial because you could actually see vendor’s products in use at the facility. They also had great outdoor type food and comradery. I bought a very expensive glass removal tool at the IT Show I went to many years ago. I liked that I was able to remove a couple pieces of glass from a vehicle before I purchased it. I don’t believe I could have done that in a typical convention center type venue. The other issue is with scheduling. ARA, in the past, has had their show the same basic dates as SEMA and I believe this causes problems for some members. I know when I left ARA they were working on changing the date on future conventions.

Willie Azevedo

Willie Azevedo

Willie Azevedo, Pacific Auto Salvage, Inc., American Canyon, CA

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ARA paid much more back in dividends than we ever invested

I started attending ARA Conferences and exhibits in 1957. I do not think in all the following years I missed more than three at the very most. Unfortunately, do to a conflict, I will have to miss this year, and not happy about that loss to me. Why? I can say honestly one of the very best investments my business ever made was to have me and or others from my company at ARA Conventions and Expos, as the educations we received, the connections we made, the insights we adopted through the lenses of ARA, paid much more in dividends than we ever invested. That was yesterday, and I have to say, if we did not act on what we learned at ARA, we may not have achieved in our industry what we had achieved.

As for the vendor exhibits – they are always interesting and bring value when we act to work with those that are in business to support our industry.

Now, for the other side of the coin – that is the side of today. Yes, all of the above still holds true. BUT, today’s communication system and other organizations provide much of what ARA does and the cost to duplicate as a vendor or industry attendee is so much more expensive than it was yesterday. We have a cost benefit ratio and alternatives today that I truly believe ARA must address in the interest of its member and supporting vendors.

I believe there are options to continue to provide the benefits of yesterday, today, at a cost benefit ratio more in line with what is affordable by industry members and its valued vendors.

Herb Lieberman

Herb Lieberman

Herb Lieberman, Active in the Auto Recycling, Industry since 1957. ARA Past , President and Life time member. , “Retired, NOT Expired”.

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We need to see more larger regional events in addition to the annual national conference

With all of the changes that our industry is facing, I think it’s more important now than ever to attend and participate in industry conferences and trade shows. It doesn’t matter what size recycler you are, big or small, established or new to the industry, there is always something to learn and things to take back with you to apply and make your business better. Besides the usual networking, there is more of an emphasis on training and education. I think we need to see more larger regional events in addition to the annual national conference. I think we need to have some smaller, more affordable venues so all can attend, but I also believe as owners, we need to be informed, educated, and try to stay ahead of the game with all of the changes that are facing our industry. What I hear from people is they don’t have the time or don’t want to go through the expense. My answer is this: “You are investing in your business. What you come away with will by far outweigh the cost. With that being said, when you say how you cannot afford or take the time to participate, I say you can’t afford not to!”

Marty Hollingshead

Marty Hollingshead

Marty Hollingshead, Northlake Auto Parts, Hammond, IN

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- Duplication - Location - Consolidate

I love recycler trade shows and events and have been attending them for decades. I have watched many changes take place over the years; from the ones that have been held in hotels or casinos to the ones like the “It Event” at recycler facilties. I have enjoyed many benefits from attending them, speaking at them, being a vendor at them, as well as being a sponsor to them. They have truly been the right places for me to go to in order to receive industry knowledge and be up to speed concerning what’s going on, industry wise. Of course, the greatest value has been the many people I’ve met and become friends with over the years. They have become more like family than mere business friends!

Now, as to what I’d love to see improved.

  • Duplication - There are so many recycler conferences and events happening across the country that they conflict with each other. They are often held on or near the same dates. I cannot be in two places at the same time and am forced to miss some of them. ARA and URG, two of the big ones (we love them both!), have even planned their events in the same state, the last two times in Florida, and there seemed to be a lot of duplication, with many of the same vendors, speakers and attendees – In many ways, they seemed like the same event.

  • Location - My business is located in Washington State and you can’t get any farther away from us than Florida! Why not plan events in the middle of the country so that no one has to travel all across the country to attend? If events were in the middle of the country, people in Washington State, or in Florida, for instance, would only have to travel half the distance to attend. That would make a huge difference to me and my company.

  • Consolidate - Here’s an idea, why not have ARA get together with all the smaller state associations and do one big event in the middle of the country? ARA could do all their usual things on the first two or three days, then have one or two days added onto the end for the state associations to do their things. It seems to me that it would be a win-win situation for everybody.

Mike French

Mike French

Mike French, MF&CO, Inc, Lynden, WA

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Trade shows are both positive and negative

As a vendor, I find the return on investment extremely poor displaying at trade shows. However, what I find most beneficial, are the meet-ups you encounter just walking the halls. It is always a pleasure having face-to-face conversations with suppliers we, at Recore, do business with, but don’t get to see very often since they are located many miles away from us.

Another benefit of the halls, is often someone will introduce themselves saying they have read my articles and wanted to meet. This is always a pleasure. The other part of trade shows I find distasteful are some of the “educational” sessions that are not educational at all, they are thinly disguised hour long sales pitches.

Don Belisle, Sr.

Don Belisle, Sr.

Don Belisle, Sr., Recore Trading Company LLC, Hudson, NH

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Virtual Trade Shows

I have enjoyed meeting the people and vendors at industry trade shows and events. Everything in today’s world is so fast paced and never enough time. I think trade shows will have to change for sure. I am the last of the baby boomers. But, with the new era of thoughts, I just don’t know the thinking of the next generation and the generations to come. I don’t see the millennial’s and younger people taking the time to attend such events. I can see more of a virtual trade show type of thing to reach them – one on one over the internet, with less time traveled and less expense.

Mike Swift

Mike Swift

Mike Swift, Swifts Trails End Auto Recycling,, Des Moines, IA

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Make events more affordable for all

I am the Executive Director of ATRA, the Auto & Truck Recycler’s Association of NH. In my years, I have been on every possible side of the desk, in new and used vehicle and equipment sales, both at the dealer and manufacturers level, as well as fleet maintenance, purchasing, and management. I have attended many trade shows over the years in these various capacities.

As ATRA Executive Director, I encourage our members to attend both the ARA Convention and the regional conventions. The largest complaint I hear concerns the expense of these shows vs. value received. For me to attend the ARNE show, the hotel room is $612.18 and the admittance is $295 per person. That is over $900 for one person. How can small businesses justify this expense for more than one or two people? Then, the show promoters bemoan the fact that attendance is not what they had hoped for.

I have also spoken with vendors who exhibit at these shows and they do not feel there is sufficient value received for the expense involved, especially given the dwindling attendance numbers.

Something needs to be done to make these events more affordable for all.

Bruce Crawford

Bruce Crawford

Bruce Crawford, Executive Director, Auto & Truck Recyclers Association of NH

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Dedicated Trade Show Hours

Florida (FADRA) has the best schedule, and I was just there, so it’s fresh in my mind. I wish all of our small trade shows were like this.

I’ve included the schedule (below) for Thursday through Saturday, so you can see it

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As an example. Kim O'dell is the director of the show and Bobby Davis is her assistant. They really do a great job making it fun and we also eat really well.

They always plan something fun for Thursday night for a get together mixer, so everyone can socialize.

Another huge thing that’s important to us vendors, is that we have dedicated trade show hours, and there is nothing else going on during that time where the attendees can go. They always have food in the trade show too, so that keeps people in there eating, drinking and socializing. She also gives each vendor a stamp, and each attendee a card with a worthwhile prize, such as a weekend at the hotel on the beach. This motivates the attendees to go from booth to booth to get a stamp ,and then everyone gets to talk to them.

Julie Cain

Julie Cain

Julie Cain, Buddy Automotive Innovations LLC, Manitou Springs, CO

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Aug/Sept 2019Mike French