RD Hopper Is The New ARA Secretary

Photo: Dixie Knight Photo


The Automotive Recyclers Association (ARA) president’s gavel recently passed from Chris Wright, president of Capital Auto Parts, Inc. in Thomasville, Ga., to Ed MacDonald, owner of Maritime Auto Parts in Debert, Nova Scotia. Aside from receiving a new president, the ARA executive committee also welcomes a new member, one who’s slated to take the reins in four years. RD Hopper of Sonny’s Auto Salvage in Jacksonville, Ark., is applying his experience and enthusiasm in his new role as Secretary on the ARA Executive Committee. As Secretary, Hopper is positioned to become Second Vice President, First Vice President and then President.

No stranger to leadership, Hopper also serves as AADRA (Arkansas Automotive Dismantlers and Recyclers Association) Southwest Director, previously as an ARA At Large Director, in his 20 years of involvement. He has been working in the auto recycling industry for more than 30 years, after leaving the new parts industry he grew up in. Hopper attended his first meeting with ARA in 1988, while working at Linn’s Auto in central Arkansas. He purchased Sonny’s Auto Salvage in 1998 and continued his involvement in committees throughout his career.

“I already had business relations with them, so to get to meet them and spend time with them seemed like the natural thing to do,” Hopper said.

Throughout his years with ARA, Hopper has been most involved with the Government Affairs committee (one of nine ARA committees with work groups under the committees). He has worked specifically to improve NMVTIS (the National Motor Vehicle Title Information System). Hopper personally estimated that in Arkansas, 60 percent of vehicles at salvage pools go to buyers who are not auto recyclers, and that perhaps 90 percent of those buyers do not register the purchased salvage vehicles with NMVTIS. The buyers who are auto recyclers nearly always register the salvage vehicles they purchase, according to Hopper. He hopes that lobbying for legislation will increase accuracy and promote a fair trade economy.

“I want to work with other auto recyclers and help the smaller yards compete with the bigger yards,” he explained. “I don’t have all the answers. I’m here with my experiences in Arkansas, and there are a lot of people around the world with different experiences. I want to take my experiences and everybody’s ideas and help the industry improve.”

There are several issues facing Hopper as he takes this national step, including changes in insurance companies and how they find parts and create estimates, the electronic compatibility of cars, parts locators, consolidation, plus an increase in overhead, taxes and fees. Undaunted, Hopper’s enthusiasm is apparent. “Every day is January the first,” Hopper said.

Hopper’s extensive involvement continues to be fueled by a passion for the industry and relationship-building.

“We want to be environmentally friendly. We want to comply with government regulations. [Small businesses] don’t need to have to make the choice on whether to do it right or stay in business,” he said. “One of my favorite things is to hear how people got into this business. When you hear the sacrifices they’ve made, it makes you pretty dang determined to keep them in business. Our people work hard. Even on the national level, I’ve got some great friends. I feel a close connection with these people because we’ve got the same problems. We’re running a business, and we’re trying to be profitable to support our family, community, and country. And we’re all trying to help each other.”

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