BATTLE READY

Alabama Creates A New Association To Fight Salvage Legislation



The 2014 legislative session just kicked off for more than 20 states and bills harmful to the auto recycling industry are already on agendas. ARA and the auto recycling community continually fight bills like salvage procurement across the United States and Alabama is no exception.

In 2013 a bill to do away with buyer identification cards at salvage pools was rumored to be re-submitted to Alabama’s legislature. The state’s auto recyclers couldn’t let a bill like this go through, but they didn’t have a legal leg to stand on. “The companies behind the bill could fight us if we didn’t have an association,” explained Chad Counselman, owner of Counselman Automotive Recycling in Mobile, Ala. “We needed to get an association formed so we could legally battle this new law.”

Thestate’s auto recycling association, the Alabama Automotive Dismantlers & Recyclers Association (AADRA) had been dormant for nearly 20 years. It got a brief resuscitation in 2009 when Counselman and others fought SB 193 – which would have opened the availability of non-repairable, salvage titled vehicles to unlicensed individuals - but AADRA died when the bill did.

When the news of a possible, new bill spread, Counselman knew it was time for a new Alabama association, but he didn’t know what steps to go through until he bumped into Sandy Blalock at an event at Butler Auto Recycling, Inc. in Pensacola, Fla. Blalock, former owner of Capo’s Truck & Auto Parts, Inc. in Albuquerque, N.M. and an ARA past president, now runs Blalock Consulting and helps auto recyclers across the country develop strong state associations.

“She took the bull by the horns and two weeks later, we were a legal association,” stated Counselman. The Alabama Automotive Recyclers Association (AARA, AlabamaARA.com) was formed in late summer of 2013. Counselman said David Parde of the U.S. Competitive Car Parts Alliance; Ray Colas with LKQ; and Jessica Thomas, director of State Government and Grassroots Affairs for ARA; were also instrumental in getting AARA off the ground. In fact Thomas created AARA’s website free-of-charge.

Counselman contacted all of the yards in the state, many of which were former AADRA members. Twenty-five yards sent in $200 dollars. The new association also had money left over from AADRA, which the Counselman’s babysat for 18 years (Counselman’s father, Ed Counselman was AADRA president for 10 years). Counselman put all the money in a bank, called all the new members and voted on a board by proxy. Counselman is president and treasurer, Colas is vice president and Rob May, owner of Wagnon Auto Parts in Montgomery, Ala., serves as secretary.

One of the main goals of the new AARA is to educate Alabama state legislative members about the auto recycling industry so they understand why salvage procurement bills are so devastating. For the initial event, Counselman invited local state legislative members and yards to his Spanish Fort, Ala. facility. Then John Davis of B And D Auto Parts hosted a similar event in Birmingham, Ala. An event in Huntsville, Ala. is next on the schedule.

“These legislative members don’t have a clue about our industry unless we tell them,” Counselman stressed. This is especially important to help combat any new salvage procurements bill slated to be introduced in the 2014 session. Counselman said LKQ has hired a lobbyist, Greg Jones, to help AARA stay on top of it. While a new bill is potentially bad news for the industry, it does help fuel the association.

“In order for these guys to join the issue, there has to be a pressing problem,” Counselman admitted. “It takes a challenge to motivate everyone.” Alabama recyclers can join AARA by visiting the website, AlabamaARA.com.

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