15 Minutes With ARA Executive Director Sandy Blalock
Sandy Blalock has come a long way since the start of her career, managing her family business, Capo’s Truck and Auto Parts in Albuquerque, N.M. A longtime advocate for the industry, she’s served both at the state and national levels to represent recyclers and create working partnerships with agencies and regulators. Now we find her again at the hub of ARA, this time serving as Executive Director. We sat down with Sandy for 15 minutes to find out more about what ARA has in store under her leadership.
What challenges have you faced as Executive Director?
I haven’t really faced a lot of challenges. I have been very actively engaged with ARA for many years. I understand from running my state organizations the basis of what was needed…it was only on a much higher level. We have a great team at the ARA office so my transition into my role as executive director was eased by their experience and expertise in their job roles.
There are challenges, however. We play a strategic role in assuring that recycled original equipment parts remain a viable option in the automotive repair marketplace and our efforts this year have been important as we face multiple levels of attack from people who want to reduce our opportunities.
We are and will always be pro customer choice. Consumers should have a voice in their vehicle repairs, and I believe that conscientious consumers will choose more recycled original equipment parts to repair their vehicles.
What goals do you have for ARA this year?
To increase all benefits and make sure recyclers know what ARA is doing for them…continue to meet the needs of all auto recyclers through education, advocating and innovation. Professional auto recyclers have great products and services to offer consumers and we have to make sure that message continues to be heard and seen on all the available platforms possible. We are determined to show that auto recyclers are fully capable of meeting the needs of their customers and future customers.
What new opportunities are available through ARA?
We started the new mentoring program that right now has 12 recycling facilities participating. We have some of the most successful recyclers in the industry working side by side with their fellow recyclers to assure they have the tools for success in their businesses.
We also are excited to announce a unique opportunity for the industry’s best and brightest leaders aged 40 and under. On April 2, 2019, ARA will debut its Future Leaders of Automotive Recycling Educational Summit (FLARES), a launching pad for the next generation of automotive recyclers to connect, learn and collaborate. FLARES is designed to recognize rising stars that will shape the future of the industry and ARA. We will have the first meeting FLARES prior to our Annual Legislative Summit and Hill Day in Washington D.C., April 2.
In addition, we will soon launch some new educational opportunities for all our members that will be a benefit of direct membership within ARA at no additional cost. We will partner with some of our business members to assure that any information that recyclers need will be available on the ARA Educational Platform ARA University.
We have an overall theme of complete transparency so that our members know and understand everything that we are doing for them. We are their partners in their success and certainly do not want to see any of them fail to meet their business goals.
We are working every day on new programs and new benefits for ARA members. We are the voice for all auto recyclers and will continue our efforts. Having come from within the industry I believe I have a deep knowledge and understanding of what recyclers need to grow and prosper and that should be our ultimate goal as an association to assure our members continue to grow and prosper.
How do you juggle all your responsibilities?
Not alone, I assure you. I have the best staff anyone could ask for in the ARA headquarters. They are knowledgeable and well trained in their positions. They are dedicated to our members as much as I am. Truthfully, they really make me look good.
I also have a very supportive Executive Committee and Board of Directors that understand my many commitments to recyclers. For me it’s 24/7 auto recycling.
On the state level, I have great Boards and supportive members. I also have Mary Moberg Lauria that handles all my events for my multiple states. That is a huge amount of time that was taken off my plate when I brought Mary on board.
How is ARA evolving to meet the changing needs of the industry?
Transparency and open lines of communications. We have monthly Town Hall Calls with our members so they know what we are working on and to allow them to share their concerns and issues with us. We must have good open lines of communication with members to assure that any program or services we provide will meet their needs.
Where do you feel are the biggest opportunities for auto recyclers?
They absolutely must engage and be involved in not only ARA but their state organizations and communities. We have a bright future for the auto recycler who wants to continue to grow with the changes within the automotive industry. We will see many new opportunities for products to sell while other products will drop off as technology plays a much bigger role in the automotive market. Change can be hard, but I believe there will be much more profitable products for recyclers to sell in the future.
However, on the flip side, if auto recyclers fail to plan for the future and envision the real opportunities and all it has to offer, it’s going to be tough for those recyclers. Auto recyclers must plan to adapt and face the changing dynamics within the automotive business. It’s here now, and every day they fail to engage is another day they are behind.
Let’s work together for the future of our industry; that is the role of ARA — and we are up to the challenge.