TrendSetter: Automotive Recyclers of Canada and Managing Director Steve Fletcher
Keeping All Eyes on the Mission
“The Automotive Recyclers of Canada (ARC), led by Managing Director Steve Fletcher, serves as an inspiration to auto recycling trade associations at every level and throughout the world. ARC leads the way in developing partnerships with related industries, government entities, and the public. Their focus on the future has had tremendous results, with noteworthy accomplishments include the ‘Green Parts’ logo and materials, Code of Practice and training program for auto recyclers, the Canadian Auto Recycler magazine, the ‘Retire Your Ride’ program, and the ‘Switch Out’ mercury recovery program.
“Not only has the ARC association had tremendous results, they also have the talent and vision to promote these programs in a way that shines an international light on the value of professional auto recycling – and that benefits the entire industry.”
– Martha Cowell, Executive Director, State of California Auto Dismantlers Association
Those are high accomplishments for an organization of just 7 members, 8 if you count the Canadian government, but as Steve Fletcher humbly explains, “All the programs that we run come from a desire to collaborate with other people or organizations. We didn’t create them from concept to implementation. We kind of fell into some of these initiatives and are always looking for ways to insert ourselves into the process.”
“Therefore our ideas grow pretty organically,” Fletcher says, “it’s a matter of being at the right place at the right time.”
ARC is different from other industry organizations. Formed in 1997, it is an “association of associations” that serves as a clearinghouse of automotive recycling industry information with the sole purpose of collaborating and working with everyone possible to aid and assist the growth of the industry in Canada. [A full list of the member associations can be found at https://www.autorecyclers.ca/who.shtml.]
Fletcher also serves in the dual role as the Executive Director of Ontario Automotive Recyclers Association (OARA), which he credits to the philosophy of sharing of resources.
“It’s everyone is working together,” says Fletcher, “which allows ARC to stay focused on its mission, and not get side-tracked with the competitive aspects that can hinder some organizations.”
Fletcher’s background in advertising and marketing is apparent in the approach ARC takes. “We promote and make people aware of what we are doing. With a consistent message on what we are trying to convey to people, with every little thing we do, you we add on to our ‘scrapbook,’ and people start noticing as it all grows into bigger things,” says Fletcher.
For instance, he started a Blog (http://autorecyclers.blogspot.com/) on automotive recycling “as a way to keep track of all the good things happening, the little successes that make greater successes when they are all pasted together.” As a result of all this good information being released, government agencies are turning more and more to ARC to work with them on projects.
In Canada, the government is more collaborative more so than other countries. For instance, in the British Columbia there is a government-run car insurance program. “Auto recyclers there tend to be more sophisticated, they don’t have to go around and market to a lot of other companies and get noticed. Insurers have to talk to auto recyclers,” Fletcher says. ARC takes the success of programs like this to illustrate how things can be improved in other regions. “We present this program to insurance companies in other regions to show them there is another way to do business.”
“We are just 10 percent of U.S. population and highly fragmented. To a certain extent, if we don’t work together, we won’t have an identity or a business. We cannot dominate so we have to reach consensus,” Fletcher says.
The most well-known initiative is the Green Parts branding program which was conceived by the OARA, and then marketed through the ARC. OARA hired a consultant to generate a marketing concept to “raise the whole industry up,” says Fletcher. “We didn’t think the logo was so spectacular, we had seen it so much, but others said, ‘how can we participate in this.’ OARA could have kept it to themselves, but if they share it, can help everyone. Sharing creates a wider place of influence.”
My role is to “translate what the outside world is saying to automotive recyclers and visa versa,” says Fletcher. “I didn’t come from the auto recycling industry,” says Fletcher, “so I have a different view of things.” This, he says, is an asset to help create a positive perception with the general public. “We want to promote things like Mercury Switch Out and Retire Your Ride programs to the public, both which took about 7 to 9 years of development. We pull switches because it’s the right thing to do and it’s a good story to tell. Retire Your Ride equals public engagement and shows the best of recycling, and it spills over to us.”
Recently, a network of OARA recyclers held a successful tire-recycling event that raised public awareness and generated a $64,000 donation to the Sunshine Foundation of Canada. Other recyclers can do the same, suggests Fletcher, “Create our own event. Send media releases. Also, get to know your politicians and know your local media. Work with your contacts to promote your event and this industry. We believe in top down, bottom up marketing with local buy in from our Members.”
ARC and Fletcher are also very active in the issues going on in the global automotive recycling industry. ARC is hosting the International Roundtable, September 17-19, in Quebec City, Quebec (www.irt-autorecycling.org). “What is noteworthy about this event is that we have invited all the vehicle manufacturers to come and they will be represented either directly or through their associations. This is a first. Their participation is primarily to get perspective on our industry and find commonality.”
What keeps Fletcher going is the “ability to move quickly and to stay focused on the mission of representing professional auto recyclers and the industry. We strive to take advantage of all opportunities to represent the interests of the industry. The mission is most important.”
Reprinted from the Automotive Recyclers Association’s Automotive Recycling Magazine, Fall 2010