High-tech auto recycling leaders in the green economy
Andrew Macdonald, owner of Maritime Auto Parts in Glenholme, Nova Scotia, is a passionate voice for and leader in the automotive recycling industry.
His business, which employs 23 people at three Nova Scotia locations, is one of a few dozen recycling operations in the Maritimes that operates to high standards of environmental responsibility and stewardship. All are members of the Auto Recycling Association of Atlantic Canada and as such conform to extremely high environmental standards and practices in all facets of how they process vehicles for recycling and/or reuse.
Recycling, reusing and/or repurposing used auto parts is nothing new. Doing it in an environmentally sensitive and hightech era and in a demanding competitive global economy is. As Andrew points out “When we’re bidding at auctions for inventory vehicles we’re not just competing with other local or regional operations anymore but increasingly buyers from around the world. Many of these buyers are in countries with little to no environmental recycling standards so beyond the added buying competition we are concerned about the global green impact.” Added to that are the demands of a modern customer base that requires instant service and high quality and the parts recycling business begins to resemble a localized auto Amazon.com in management, operation and high tech solutions.
To keep up with the pace of modern time and delivery standards, Maritime Auto Parts uses an ever more updated and advanced computer system to manage inventory and to maintain up-to-date data on the available vehicle market aka their parts supply. As Andrew explained, on an average one of his vehicle buys he’s looking at twenty core component parts that trend as being in demand at any given time – data he’s able to track through their computer system. Those core parts are the value proposition for him in a car. The operation will inventory, on average, 75 parts per car but those baseline 20 parts are the business case.
Reputations are built on quality and customer service and after over 80 years in business, in one form or another, the latest proprietor is focussed on maintaining that edge and building on the storied history. With expectation of “right now” service in all sectors the auto recycling biz is no different.
They field three to four hundred calls a day and not only is time of the essence in terms of delivery so too is quality. Andrew has three quality control staff that verify that each part going out the door is in exactly the condition it’s been inventoried and advertised on their website. Beyond the clear environmental benefits of recycling/reusing parts Andrew made a good point. “If your Subaru ends up in a body shop and needs this or that part, if we’re supplying it it’s an original Subaru part, not an aftermarket one. Important to remember that we’re maximizing, to the best we can, what came out of the, in this example, Subaru factory.”
Interestingly, in the ever evolving and progressing world of automotive recycling there is an emerging market in the sale of historically low demand parts to companies that remanufacture them. Everything from key fobs to radiators. Maritime Auto keeps a series of bins where they separate these items out and sell and ship them off to these firms all over North America.
Always with an eye on the future and where the industry is headed, the second generation Macdonald owner of Maritime Auto Parts sees plenty of challenges and opportunities moving forward. The Waterloo Mechanical Engineering Alumnus chose to take-over and modernize this business after a few years working for some of the big automakers in Ontario and with his and the wider industries continued dedication to the environmental cause, the auto recyclers really are the “Green Leaders” of the automotive business chain.
by Andrew Skaling, Auto & Trucking Atlantic November 2017