Wally Dingman has been in the auto recycling industry his entire life. He started work at Caughill Auto Wreckers 39 years ago working for and then with his Father. He purchased the business in 2012 and ran Caughill until 2022 when he sold the property for development. Wally continues to operate Caughill Automotive as a repair facility in Niagara-on-the-Lake. He started a consulting business in 2019—ELV Consulting to help auto recyclers of all shapes and sizes. He was the Chairman of the Ontario Automotive Recyclers Association (OARA) for 10 years, the Chairman of the Automotive Recyclers of Canada (ARC) for 10 years, and continues to sit on the ARC Board of Directors.
The top 10 advantages to certification
By Wally Dingman
The Automotive Recyclers of Canada (ARC), through its seven provincial associations, requires all members to be certified by a third party to the Canadian Auto Recyclers Environmental Code (CAREC). This certification process was developed for Environment Canada as part of their National Scrappage program. The audits cost money, take some time, but in my experience are well worth the investment. And that’s how I looked at it—an investment.
Here are my top 10 reasons for auto recyclers of all shapes and sizes to pursue certification.
If you spend some time with your broker and educate them on the process, explain the audits and the best management practices buried within the code there are substantial savings to be had. In my case, about 10 percent every year. Having the certification process documented always helps.
Many owners discount a tidy shop as being costly and not important—I did early on in my business journey. I also learned very quickly that a clean shop, work area and yard had so many benefits. The insurance company was happy (bonus!), employees started to take more pride in their workplace, which translated into more pride in workmanship, and that equals quality. As an owner, I saw a benefit I was not expecting—realizing the cost was more than worth the effort and it made us strive to do more—to be better today than we were yesterday.
Your workplace insurance provider (the WSIB in Ontario), like my insurance broker, found many issues early on with my poor housekeeping and that translated into higher WSIB premiums. I improved my workplace safety record and WSIB reconsidered my classification (originally hazardous waste). My WSIB claims went to zero over the period of 12 months and stayed there for five years.
I found that a safe, clean working environment had the added benefit of a more positive, happier employee culture. Today, employee recruitment and retention are difficult, if not impossible. A good certification program will consider the workplace condition, training, processes–all leading to a happier employee with expectations understood by everyone.
A Clear Plan
Certification programs are a huge benefit to owners and new members as they document and map out minimum compliance and then move that along to industry best practices. Not everyone is proficient in all areas of business operations or government requirements. A good program outlines responsibilities and popular solutions. I personally learned so much in my early years from being an OARA member. Conventions, yard tours and regular audits became invaluable to the growth of my business.
Friendly competition between businesses is healthy and something I sought out. Sharing amongst members in a co-operative manner helps everyone. We may be competitors but we can still help each other do better and further the overall industry. Our competitor is not each other; it’s the other part suppliers (OEs and aftermarket). I help you do better and you help me – we all do better. The best programs attempt to mentor new members and help them along. An audit score is a big motivator – how do I improve? How to I stack up against other members I know well?
A certification program that is scored or audited also has a significant impact on the perceptions of neighbours and local government. Again, you need to engage and educate, but the return on your investment is significant. To work with local government and be a part of the solution and not the problem is hugely significant. I had a fantastic relationship with our local volunteer fire departments and it paid dividends. Helping them understand a vehicle and give them space to practice their skills was a huge win for them and a win for me too.
A certification program creates a great business overview and profile when engaging with the Ministry of Environment, and other provincial government bodies. Be organized – keep your audits and program requirements organized in one place for government review when they stop by. It is shocking how easily they can be satisfied if you have all your ducks in a row. Be organized!
Certification allows for enhanced marketing and communication. Not only is it something to talk about—it’s something to show.
Quality Parts and Service
From the repair shop point of view (my current view), it’s amazing how quickly I equate a business meeting a standard (Gold Seal, CAREC, etc.) as being a preferred vendor. I realize these companies are invested in their business, their product and their customer. There is also a perceived accountability should an issue occur. Price is not always the driver to a purchase decision. Customer satisfaction and retention requires quality parts from quality vendors.
Expectations being met in regards to quality, warranty and on-time delivery are more important than ever. Under-promising and over-delivering are the mantra of the day if you want to retain loyal customers. Warranty standards should be more uniform across the industry and warranty issues should always be handled with priority. Certification helps you to put the processes in place to ensure your products and services exceed expectations. ARC’s certification program–CAREC is available for review by anyone interested—at www.carec.ca. I encourage everyone, regardless of their industry, to pursue certification and maybe you can add to this list. Bon voyage.
CAREC started as the Environmental Code of Practice to support Environment Canada’s National Scrappage program and ran from 2009 to 2011. The Intellectual Property transferred to ARC for the Code and Audit Protocols in 2013 and was rebranded as CAREC. Since then, thousands of audits have been completed as a successful CAREC audit is required to maintain your membership in ARC. But the Code hasn’t been significantly updated since 2013.
ARC has received funding from Natural Resources Canada to update CAREC, primarily to include information on Electric Vehicles, but the project also allows for a review of CAREC, the scoring system, and some training for the Auditors and all auto recycling participants.
This funding and update will continue to make CAREC a set of relevant documents, policies and protocols to guide progressive auto recyclers through the changing years ahead.