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Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Hollander, eBay Motors bringing recyclers online

A couple of years ago Hollander and eBay Motors announced a partnership that promised to revolutionize auto recyclers’ ability to sell their parts to a wider market. According to Hollander, the partnership is going extremely well and is even having some unexpected benefits.

Currently, Hollander has 300 recyclers selling on eBay who account for over two million listings, says Kirk Monger, sales manager national accounts at Hollander. Monger told Collision Repair the feedback they’ve received from the sellers has been overwhelmingly positive.

“There was a very small number that were selling on eBay and some of our larger sellers have converted over from doing it on their own to having the integrated solution,” says Monger. He adds that the growing number of recyclers selling online has to do with numerous costs benefits and simplicity associated with the Hollander eLink program.

How the program works is recyclers use Hollander’s Powerlink Yard Management tool to keep track of their inventory. Any item in Powerlink automatically generates an eBay listing in Blackthorne, an eBay owned listings management tool. In Blackthorne, sellers can choose which parts they want to post online and edit those posts individually or as a group. Thousands of parts can be posted on eBay Motors’ website instantaneously.

However, Monger points out, the benefits of this partnership go beyond the ability to sell parts online, which anyone can do. Recyclers, as part of the Hollander program, do not have to pay for Blackthorne, can add subtitles to their listing at no cost, do not pay a listing fee, do not pay for an eBay store, and get Selling Manager Pro for free. The only fee for the recycler is a success fee for parts that are sold on eBay.

For Miller’s Auto Recycling – one of the largest Canadian users of the program with around 40,000 parts listed on eBay at any given time – the biggest benefit is the previously untapped market they now have access to.

“It’s opening up the world market,” says Evan Miller, noting that his company has been a part of the program for two years. “It’s great, we’re selling all over the world right now.”

As well, Hollander also conducts case studies to judge the effectiveness of the program, says Monger, and it noticed an unexpected benefit.

“The sellers will tell you that for every item that they sell through the eBay program, they’re selling one to two additional items that aren’t going through eBay,” he says. Essentially, Monger adds, eBay is acting as a marketing tool. Customers who have a positive experience will next time go directly to that seller’s shop or website instead of back to eBay.

Though eBay is now fully dedicated to the partnership – they have a team of account reps who deal solely with Hollander sellers – it wasn’t always the case.

“We had originally started talking to them several years ago and it took several years until we had an agreement,” explains Monger. “Initially eBay was kind of lukewarm to the whole idea and now they are so dedicated to our partnership.”

The dedication is paying off because the idea of selling parts on eBay is gaining traction in the industry, says Monger. He will be giving a presentation on the benefits and success of the eBay partnership at the Florida Auto Dismantlers and Recyclers Association Convention in July.

With an increased number of non-Hollander sellers showing interest and a very large untapped market, Hollander does not intend to slow the program’s growth. Particularly, Monger adds, Hollander is hoping to bring more Canadian recyclers to eBay.

Collision Repair Magazine by Michael Raine

Monday, June 20, 2011

Premature End of Life Vehicles

From Salvage Wire Blog

By their definition Premature ELV’s are vehicles that have not survived the expected life span of 12-15 years that most vehicle manufacturers build into their vehicles.

The reasons for this can be many, however I suspect that most will be due to accident, fire, flood or other events that result in an insurance claim.

Insurance engineers completing vehicle inspections need to determine if the vehicle could be repaired economically; if repair is not viable, then vehicles need to be dealt with as salvage and the inspecting engineer must determine if the vehicle is safe to repair, or must it be removed from use?

One of the most important decisions that an engineer makes is deciding if the vehicle ‘could’ or ‘should’ be repaired; the Engineer needs to know the extent of damage, potential method of repair and availability of parts.

Knowledge of vehicle construction is very important here, especially as manufacturers try to save weight whilst developing stronger vehicle bodies, the greater use of high strength steel makes repair increasingly difficult and any motor salvage inspection needs to balance repair potential against passenger safety – in other words, can any professional engineer signing a vehicle write-off report confirm that the vehicle could be repaired to a standard that would maintain occupant safety in the event of another accident.

Developed over many years the Association of British Insurers (ABI) Code of Practice for Motor Salvage assists the decision making process when inspecting vehicles in the UK that are written-off.

The ABI code has four categories of salvage that are:

• Category A. Scrap vehicles, good only for the shredder and metal recycling
• Category B. Break only – bolt on parts can be re-used, but the vehicle structure is so badly damaged that this must be removed from use and destroyed.
• Category C. Repairable Salvage – repairs using normal methods of insurance repair (brand new parts, manufacturer labour) exceed the value of the vehicle, however cheaper labour, second hand parts, or ignoring ‘cosmetic’ damage means that the vehicle could be repaired in the salvage industry.
• Category D. Constructive Total Loss – where the repair cost of the vehicle when added to other costs, such as loss of use, or the value of the salvage, exceeds the value of the vehicle, then insurers can decide to treat the vehicle as a write-off and minimise their costs. As an example, a £10,000 vehicle with £8,000 worth of damage may return £3,000 salvage, so a settlement of £10,000 less £3,000 salvage return gives a final outlay of £7,000 against the claim. Less than the assessed repair cost of £8,000.

There are a number of factors that need to be reviewed when inspecting potential write-offs, including type of damage, repair required to maintain occupant protection, and availability of parts; a few examples are detailed below.

Flood Damage
Factors to consider include type of water – fresh, salt or contaminated (sewage), height of water, and length of time in water.
Current trends towards increasingly complex electronics will mean that any salt water damage will render the vehicle unrepairable, and if a vehicle has been submerged to a significant depth – for example water high enough to contaminate air bags) then the vehicle should be removed from use.

Fire Damage
Excessive heat removes the strength from High Strength Steel, so fire damage to structural areas of newer vehicles is serious, I would contend that, unless the damage is very localised, all fire damaged vehicles should not be repaired.

Parts Availability
A vehicle severely structurally damaged where parts are not available should not be repaired, releasing one of these vehicles into the motor salvage market for repair could lead to a substandard repair being completed and the general public being put in danger as an unsafe vehicle is in use. Engineers need to know what parts are available from the vehicle manufacturers and any safeguards they put in place. For example, many manufacturers place controls on the supply of replacement bodyshells that could result in these not being available to the salvage industry, thus compromising a safe repair on motor salvage.

In summary, all motor engineers inspecting vehicles for insurance repair need to be fully aware of current vehicle design and construction, they need to know repair techniques for all types of vehicles, and also decide if a salvage vehicle can be safely repaired and placed back into use.
And we haven’t started on electric vehicles yet!

Here is a downloadable copy of the ABI Code of Practice for Motor Salvage.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

You Don’t Need To Be a “Do-It-Yourselfer” to Save On Recycled Parts

Mention recycled auto parts, and you might conjure up images of having to rummage through old hulks with your tool box looking for whatever you can find. The truth is, although the old u-pick lots still exist for those that want them, the auto recycling industry has evolved far beyond that. It has become a very sophisticated sourcing network for anyone who wants to save money on repairing their vehicle, while doing something good for the environment to boot.

“These days, we can literally source a part for any vehicle in an instant.” says Steve Fletcher, Managing Director of the Ontario Auto Recyclers Association (OARA) “All of our members have a warehouse full of quality recycled parts all cleaned, tested, and ready to go. Their entire inventory is tagged with a stock number and tracked by computer, so whether it’s for an individual or a repair shop, all it takes is one call to any recycler and with a click of a mouse, they’ll know where the part is located.”

Using a recycled part to repair a vehicle can save a lot of money. Most recycled parts average about half the price of a new part.

So if it’s so easy to find quality recycled parts, why don’t all auto repair shops offer consumers the money-saving option? “We find that some shops still shy away because of old beliefs about how customers might perceive recycled parts, and how that might reflect on their image. The more progressive shops understand that there has been a significant shift in public perception.” offers Fletcher. “The new reality of the modern auto recycling industry resonates with a lot of vehicle owners. They appreciate being offered a less expensive, more environmentally friendly option when they bring their vehicle in for repair and the forward-thinking shops are recognizing that. They see it as a customer service issue, so in some cases they are actually making it part of their quoting system. Where it’s appropriate, they’ll automatically show the customer the difference between a new part and a recycled part and give them the choice.”

Even if your auto repair shop doesn’t actively promote the use of recycled parts, the vast majority of them do offer the option whenever a customer requests it. In fact, most of the auto recyclers today do the vast majority of their business with auto body and auto repair shops, not with people fixing their own cars.

Monday, June 06, 2011

Sonshine Auto Parts - The Auto Recycler

While other kids aspired to become athletes or rock stars, Denis Desjardins fulfilled his dream to recycle car parts.

In the pre-dawn hours of a recent morning, the RCMP counter-terrorism unit descended upon the yard of wrecked cars at Sonshine Auto Parts in Cumberland. Snipers came from all directions, across farmers' fields on Innes, Dunning and French Hill roads, hoping their intervention in a kidnapping would end successfully. They brought with them a small remote-controlled drone, and weaponry capable of inflicting considerable damage from great distances. Shots were fired.

Any neighbours whose sleep was disturbed by the commotion that morning might have looked at their bedside clock, gathered their bearings and returned to sleep. After all, they'd seen this before.

The RCMP conducts training exercises in Denis Desjardins' car yard five or six times a year. Much more common are the firefighters from various regional departments, whom he lets use the lot's junkers -there are approximately 2,500 of them in the yard at any given time -each week to simulate accidents and practise extraction techniques.

It all seems like the ideal playground for a young boy's imagination, and in fact if you ask Desjardins what his childhood ambition was for himself, he spreads his arms to embrace the 100 acres of cars, crushers and parts, and says simply, "Exactly what you're looking at. This is all I wanted to do."

Denis Desjardins' car lot is a testament to bad driving. Row after row of neatly aligned cars, trucks and SUVs -the majority of them insurance writeoffs -face south, each perched on wheel rims to provide easy access and keep them from freezing into the ground in the winter. Most are victims of rear-end collisions, the front or back staved in and bumpers crumpled. Others have been T-boned. Deployed but now deflated airbags offer the hope that passengers and drivers escaped unharmed. Shattered windshields and melted steering columns suggest others may not have been so lucky.

"Every car has a story to tell," says Desjardins. "On a full moon, you see the yard and I'm sure there are some stories coming out of those cars.

"Hopefully there are no injuries involved, but I'm sure that from the back seat to everywhere else, there are stories to be told. It's fascinating, it is."

Each year, Desjardins and his staff of 40 process more than 3,000 automobiles, draining hazardous fluids, inventorying and removing parts, and eventually crushing what remains for scrap. When your mechanic or body shop tells you they'll try to save you some money by tracking down a used alternator or fender, Sonshine -named for Desjardin's nickname of "Sonny" -is one of the places they'll likely look. His parts business extends to Cornwall and Brockville, to Maniwaki and Montreal.

The parts he most popularly sells are those damaged in frontand rear-end collisions: bumpers, hoods, tail lights and headlights. He's one of those people for whom bad weather is good business.

"When you hear in a morning in the middle of February of 365 accidents in town, that's white gold to us," he says. "That's white gold. This is good to us."

Winter is their busiest season, but Desjardins notes that fair weather can also be a boon. "Say a long weekend in May, everyone's gone camping or they want to do their flowers. Everybody's out in full force -lots of accidents.

"And very warm weather, in July and August, cars overheat. That's good for us, too."

Desjardins, 47, was born and raised in Orléans. He loved cars as a youth, tinkering with antiques and hot rods when he was in high school.

After graduation, he turned down scholarship offers and started his own business -Cumberland Towing -which he eventually built into an eight-truck empire.

But he always wanted a recycling yard, and recalls that when he and his wife, Josée, were dating, they'd sometimes drive by Cumberland Auto Parts on Dunning Road, and Denis would tell her that he intended to one day buy the business. She promised to leave him if he did.

In 1993, he lived up to his word and she didn't. Their son, Shawn, was born that fall.

The business grew, starting with about 15 acres of cars and eventually reaching the 80 acres it currently uses.

In 2000, the Ford Motor Company, believing a cradle-to-grave program -making auto manufacturers responsible for the entire life of their products -was headed to North America from Europe, bought his business. Desjardins, who retained title to the land, managed it for them.

When Ford got out of the usedparts business two years later and sold the business to a third party, Desjardins retired to a life of golf and pickup hockey. A year later, bored with his new-found freedom, he bought a parcel of land on Herbert Drive and started again. In 2006, the original business was put up for sale and Desjardins returned to Dunning Road.

His house, located on a twoacre lot severed from the original 100, overlooks his car yard.

"It's my passion," he says. "It always will be. I enjoy doing it. I must spend 70 or 80 hours a week here.

"You're probably going to say I don't have a life. This is my life."

By Bruce Deachman The Ottawa Citizen

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

400 Auto Wreckers, changing perceptions of auto recycling

At 62, Tom Huehn shows no signs of slowing down. Over the phone his voice is enthusiastic and his sentences punctuated with laughter. Huehn’s warm personality and infectious love of all things automotive are obvious the moment he starts talking. This, at least partially, may be the reason he has so successfully changed his local government’s perception of auto recycling. Together with his business partner, Bob Bridges, Huehn has integrated 400 Auto Wreckers in Holland Landing, ON into the local community.

Huehn has been in the automotive recycling business since 1984 and says the industry is currently in the best shape he’s seen it. ““We’ve changed so much with the accreditation and with the environmental audits, with the National Code of Practice, with the ongoing education,” he says.

Huehn is quick to give credit where it’s due, particularly to the Ontario Automotive Recyclers Association (OARA). “I think that one of the most positive things for my business and our industry is our association with OARA. OARA provides us with so much education and so many benefits; OARA is really the thing that is going to save our industry,” Huehn states boldly.

For evidence of the auto recycling industry’s newfound credibility and environment awareness, Huehn points to the Ontario Tire Stewardship's Tire Take Back Days events. “When we did the tire program, I had five town councillors come to our business and want to get their picture taken and get involved. It wasn’t that they wanted their picture taken for a photo op. They were here getting their photo taken and saying, ‘we support what these guys are doing.’ Ten years ago they wouldn’t come near us.”

Huehn points out that changing negative perceptions doesn’t happen overnight. “It just happens slowly, and again I give OARA credit for that, they’ve given us so much credibility. The literature, the DVDs, the charity programs, all these things make people look at us differently than perhaps they have for the last decade.” He says that in the last three years especially, he has notice a marked shift in public and government perception of the auto recycling industry.

Within East Gwillimbury, the township in which Holland Landing is a part, Huehn has been instrumental in changing negative perceptions of the industry. “You just have to approach them and invite them to your facility and show them what you’re doing and show them what you’re not doing,” he advises. “I was a speaker at the chamber of commerce and I didn’t focus on my particular business, I focused on my industry. I showed the OARA DVD and the response from those hundred people that were at that meeting was consistently, ‘I didn’t know. I wasn’t aware. Boy have things changed.’ They saw it in a whole different light once they got some education.”

However, it is not only the public has changed its mindset, Huehn says auto recyclers have shown an ability to change for the better. He points to the 66 recycling facilities that passed the mandatory environmental audits in order to participate in the Tire Take Back event. “Everybody had to work to upgrade themselves to pass and everybody did it. If you wanted in that program, you had to do some work, you had to make some changes, and you had to see things differently.”

Huehn says he doesn’t spend much money on advertising and the reason he’s been successful in getting the cooperation and support of the local government is his willingness to get out into the community. Because of this, he says, the town gave the program its full support. "We were able to put a huge tire sign on public land because they said, ‘what you’re doing is good.’ It went to council and council said this is a good thing and directed the people that run the town to get on board and do whatever they could to help.”

Looking forward, Huehn hopes that the auto recycling industry will build its credibility by issuing auto-recycling licences through the provincial government. In the meantime, he says auto recyclers should “just go out there and talk to [people]. Invite them to your business and work at changing people’s perceptions.”

By Michael Raine,