LAW BY LAW
Sottile Looks Out For Auto Recyclers
As LKQ Corporation's vice president of government affairs, Eileen Sottile knows ever legislative issue affecting the industry.
PHOTO: FAIRCHILD PHOTOGRAPHY
If there is a law affecting auto recyclers, chances are Eileen Sottile has read it, lobbied for it or helped kill it in committee. As vice president of government affairs for LKQ Corporation (LKQCorp.com), Sottile has been instrumental in shaping the fate of the auto recycling industry.
Her career path was an accident of fate. Sure, Sottile came from a political family and was surrounded by campaigns nearly her entire life. She earned a college internship in the New York State Senate and later served in her county legislature. She also was a staffer for Senator Charles Cook.
But she made a pivotal decision when she relocated to Florida.
"I answered an ad for a company in Miami and it set me on this 15-year path," she explained. "I didn't know anything about the automotive parts industry but I found it fascinating. I knew there was an opportunity to create something here."
Sottile worked for Inteuro Parts Distributors as the corporate relations manager. Keystone Automotive Industries, Inc. later purchased the company. About 2.5 years ago, LKQ Corporation bought it. Through all the changes, Sottile continued to handle the government affairs.
"LKQ has introduced me to a whole different world, the world of auto recycling," she said. "The recycling world has such a great opportunity to promote its many green benefits and the value it brings to consumers. The business model is quite different from the aftermarket industry. In the aftermarket, you buy a part and resell it. In the recycled market, there are so many steps before we go to market, and so many opportunities for government to interfere."
Sottile travels all over the country but calls LKQ Corporation's Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. office her home base. It's a job that requires many long days and weekend work. Her overall responsibility is to stop any legislation or regulation that could potentially interfere with business. This includes researching and tracking bills, lobbying, testifying and building coalitions.
"We've worked very hard to build bridges with the rest of the industry to protect everyone in a way that is most effective," she acknowledged.
In any given year, Sottile is reading 1,500 to 2,000 pieces of legislation. The issues run the gamut from air bags to metal theft to the most recent CARS program (aka Cash for Clunkers).
"We work side by side with ARA on many of these threats," Sottile noted. "I've been impressed with the passion and commitment I've seen with industry leaders.
"I think we all need to be on our toes," she added. "I see a great trend of state regulation and legislation being introduced. We need to continue to educate legislators and our leaders about the benefit of recycled parts. I would appeal to the rest of the industry to reach out to the legislators, meet them, invite them to your facilities."
She encourages women to take an active role in government. "Not only is the auto industry intimidating for many women, but so is the political arena. We would benefit from opening those doors and inviting more women inside."