Last week, Reitman Auto Parts & Sales had the pleasure of attending the 75th Annual Automotive Recyclers Association (ARA) Convention & Expo in Orlando. This convention is one of our favorite industry events throughout the year, as it spotlights great training opportunities and is home to a fascinating tradeshow that showcases some of the most interesting products and developments in our industry.

Each year, the ARA pulls together more than 30 education and training sessions that are incredibly valuable to businesses like Reitman. From issues that impact companies around the world—such as operating as a green recycler—to problems specific to certain communities or businesses, the topics that we cover are vast and incredibly useful. In our daily jobs, we don’t often get the chance to come together to learn from one another and check our competitive nature at the door. At the ARA Convention, everyone is there for the same reason: to expand our businesses and learn ways to do our jobs even better. One of the most popular sessions was “Tackling the Tough Issues,” a roundtable discussion in which the entire membership gathers together to discuss current industry issues, trends, share our experiences, and determine a joint direction for the future of our industry.

The entire convention is an amazing four days, but one of our favorite parts has always been the Recycler of the Year Award, which is presented each year during the event. The Certified Auto Recycler (CAR) award is one of the most coveted awards available to businesses in our industry, and we’re proud of the history Reitman had in shaping the sector’s appreciation for it. The CAR award is, in short, a housekeeping checklist that businesses use to ensure they are following best practices in automotive recycling processes.

“You’re either an award recipient or you’re working hard to get there,” said Reitman’s owner, Fran. “I’m proud to be on the CAR certification board.”

As part of the award, businesses pledge several principles of operation. For instance, all businesses pledge that they are—and will continue to be—in good standing with the government in terms of taxes and following regulatory standards. Additionally, the award examines how businesses are supporting (and actively not harming) the environment, such as practices that measure how well a company cleans up after a crush and how it strives to uphold environmental standards. Every other year, a third-party examiner who is registered with NSS Environmental, Inc., reviews the guidelines for the industry to ensure they keep up with changing times and other pertinent environmental policies and issues.

The CAR award also assesses safety standards to ensure that employees are well trained and that educational opportunities, like those at the ARA Convention & Expo, are available to employees of the industry throughout the year.

Reitman Auto Parts & Sales has been a long-time supporter of the CAR award and encouraging industry-wide participation in the award program, which started in 1995. In fact, once Randy and Fran Reitman began pursuing the award on their own, they began to appreciate its role in how the industry was viewed and the quality of work performed by recyclers across the nation.

“As we got more and more involved with the guidelines and the award process, we learned to love it,” Fran said.

Reitman applied for, and earned, the award in 2004. When Randy was elected President of ARA in 2013, he and Fran made it their personal mission to use his role as President to positively encourage participation in the award process. Under Randy’s guidance, the industry’s participation doubled, and the growth continues to this day.