Associations ... What's In It For Me?
Ian Hope, AARDA executive director, recently attended the 2011 ARA Convention & Expo in Charlotte, N.C.
PHOTO: IAN HOPE
Associations unite professionals to continue their industry education, to inform members of changes and to alert businesses of critical government regulations. Whether the association is in Canada or the United States, locally based or nationally based, it is critical for auto recyclers to participate actively in a trade organization. Paying dues doesn’t make a business more informed; involvement does. Locator UpFront asked Ian Hope, AARDA executive director, to share his thoughts on the benefits these organizations provide.
As the executive director of the Alberta Automotive Recyclers & Dismantlers Association (AARDA.com), based in Edmonton, Alberta, I’m often asked the questions, “why should I join the association” and “what’s in it for me?”
I’ve given these questions a lot of thought since taking on my new role with AARDA. While my initial focus is on the value of membership with a state or provincial association, the merits and benefits also extend to a national participation with ARA (A-R-A.org) or the Automotive Recyclers of Canada (ARC, AutoRecyclers.ca).
Advantages of membership are both direct and indirect. While some are more visible and obvious than others, they can all be of real value. The direct benefits can include discounts arranged on everything from freight to banking services and from insurance programs to fuel discounts. For example, one of AARDA’s associate members waives the loading fee it charges on vehicle bodies for AARDA’s direct members; this has resulted in significant savings for auto recyclers here in Alberta. I know ARA offers discounts through partnership programs with companies like Wells Fargo Insurance Services (WFIS.WellsFargo.com) and UniFirst Corporation (UniFirst.com), a uniform and shop supplier.
Just as valuable though are the many indirect gains. Anyone who has ever attended an annual conference has witnessed firsthand the sharing of ideas. No doubt, he or she returned from the trip with new processes and business concepts to implement. How much are those new and practical goals worth? The notion that information is power has never been truer.
Associations can influence governmental programs by collectively representing the group’s preferences. Of recent note are the CARS program (aka Cash for Clunkers, CARS.gov), Retire Your Ride program (RetireYourRide.ca) and Car Heaven program (CarHeaven.ca). Members can expect to enjoy this benefit long into the future as governments continue to encourage upgrades to more fuel-efficient and cleaner vehicles. This is just one example of an auto-recycling group making its industry stronger and providing a voice on relevant issues. Indeed, whatever strengthens an industry is good for individual businesses.
I’ve come to realize associations need members, and the industry needs associations. It’s reciprocal. I encourage everyone in auto recycling to join state and national groups and to contribute toward their success. Do what you can to make it better. Join an association, pay the dues, volunteer, join a board or committee, attend meetings and conferences, share ideas with colleagues, and encourage others to do the same.