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  • Salvaging Millions | JAN 2015 Tools for success – an ongoing series

    by RON STURGEON, AutoSalvageConsultant.com

    Be a leader – Not a boss

    The first article of this series listed several tactics that will make you more successful. The rest of the series will take a closer look at each of them.

    How do you see yourself at work? Are you a boss or a leader? Think about how your employees see you. Do they see you as a boss or a leader? Do they see the other managers on your team as bosses or leaders? The difference may sound like rhetoric, but it’s real.

    Without leadership, you won’t get peak performance from your people. You won’t get close to the results you could.

    Two things made me a leader and not a boss. One was hunger. We all have about the same natural ability. The real question is how much desire we have. Desire is what gives one person the persistence to stay at it until he or she reaches a difficult goal.

    You’re a leader because the people around you know you have that level of desire. You want to win, and you want the people you lead to play on a winning team.

    When I was growing my salvage yards, I used to get a question that tickled me – “Ron, how can you hire 100 employees? I can’t find six that are worth a crap.”

    Whenever I hear that question, I always wonder whether the real source of the problem is the employer. As owners, after all, we create the work environment at the business. Employees can like working for us or not.

    Of course, money is a big part of how they feel. However, getting happy, productive employees is about more than the right paycheck. Employees like to work for a growing, successful company. Do you and your management team project that image? Would a person who showed up for a job interview at your yard see the signs of growth and success?

    The second thing that made me a leader was a willingness to invest money to improve myself. Leaders are willing to invest in making themselves and their team members better. Are you investing time to read books and magazine articles about leadership? Have you or your top managers gone to any training on effective team building, leading teams and effective hiring?

    The investment in developing leadership skills will help you go from boss to leader. You and your team should be going to a seminar on these topics once a quarter. Expect to pay between $100 and $200 per person, a little less if you send more people.

    I have always been a great admirer of Dave Thomas, the founder of Wendy’s. He grew from one restaurant to two and then to many because he had so many people who wanted to come work for him at his new restaurant. They could have found a boss anywhere. What they wanted was to be part of creating a successful business and to work for an outstanding leader.

    My advice: Be hungry for success. Project that hunger and the success you are building. Choose to be a leader, not a boss. Do these three things for long enough, and talent will come to find you.

    Published in the January 2015 Edition of American Recycler News

  • Lighter vehicles coming to scrap yards

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    The U.S Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) have proposed new rules to set stringent fuel and emissions requirements for vehicles for model years 2017 to 2025.

  • Insurance Auto Auctions expands in Tulsa and Des Moines areas

    Insurance Auto Auctions, Inc. (IAA), a business unit of KAR Auction Services, and a live and live-online salvage auto auction company, is expanding two branches in Tulsa, Oklahoma and in Des Moines, Iowa.

  • Salvaging Millions | DEC 2014 Tools for success – an ongoing series

    by RON STURGEON, AutoSalvageConsultant.com

    Be a promise keeper

    The first article of this series listed dozens of tactics you need to be more successful. In the rest of the series, I will take a closer look at each of them.

    You should surround yourself with people who are smarter than you are. Being successful in business takes brains. No doubt that you are smarter than some of the people who work for you. However, if you are always the smartest one in the room, you need to do a better job hiring.

    The person in the engine room of the ship knows the engine inside and out, but he reports to the captain. Do you really think the ship would run as well if the captain spent all of his time in the engine room? The captain needs to delegate and direct a team of people competent in their specialties.

    In the consulting I do with small business owners, I find that finance is an area that owners often do not turn over to the right level person soon enough. For example, if your salvage operation is selling more than 1.5 to 2 million, you should upgrade from a bookkeeper to a comptroller-level finance person.

    When I reached that level of sales, I made a change. It cost me $20,000 more per year to get a comptroller who had financial skills that neither the bookkeeper nor I had. She showed me ways to lower costs, increase sales, and streamline my operations. I recovered the full increase in salary in two months.

    Surround yourself with people who will do things that you won’t. Sometimes, a longtime employee needs to be let go. Some owners can’t do it, even when everyone involved would be better off for it. If you can’t fire, make sure you have someone working for you who can and will let a person go at your direction.

    Surround yourself with people that will do things you can’t. I am not a web designer, but I have a very good understanding of internet marketing. It would be foolish for me to spend time trying to do my own web development and design work. I hire it out because I know people who do it much better and much faster than I ever could. Don’t be afraid to hire smart people to do what you can’t.

    Surround yourself with people that can do things that you shouldn’t. I have started and grown many businesses. One of the reasons that I have done so well is because of what I didn’t do. My greatest talents are in strategic planning, marketing, and managing with metrics. At the start of an enterprise, you may wear many hats, but the sooner you can give the less important tasks away and focus on your strengths, the quicker you will be able to make your business grow. Should you really be ordering the office supplies? Make sure you put your time to its highest and best use.

    Yes, you will have to tolerate some mediocrity to grow. The first and second time a new person takes over a task, he or she may not do it as well as you do. Let them learn. Give them a little mentoring.

    Hire smart people. Delegate the tasks you can’t, won’t or shouldn’t do. How much could your business grow if you could work devote all of your time to doing what you can and should do? It could grow enough to replace your bookkeeper with a comptroller.

    Published in the December 2014 Edition of American Recycler News

  • U.S. fuel economy reaches record

    New vehicles achieved an all-time-high fuel economy in 2013, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) said.

  • RAM 1500 EcoDiesel wins 2015 Green Truck of the Year

    Green Car Journal has awarded its 2015 Green Truck of the Year honor to the RAM 1500 EcoDiesel, a pickup that offers the only advanced, fuel-efficient diesel engine in the light-duty truck segment.

  • Hyundai and Kia to pay record $100 million penalty

    The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Department of Justice disclosed a settlement with automakers Hyundai and Kia that will resolve alleged Clean Air Act violations based on their sale of close to 1.2 million vehicles that will emit 4.75 million metric tons of greenhouse gases in excess of what the automakers certified to EPA.

  • Salvaging Millions | NOV 2014 Tools for success – an ongoing series

    by RON STURGEON, AutoSalvageConsultant.com

    Be a promise keeper

    The initial article of this series listed dozens of tools needed for success from my experience. In subsequent articles, I will be exploring them in more depth.

    Always do exactly what you say you will. People will learn that they can count on you, and you want that reputation. Don’t make excuses. Just do what needs to be done.

    When my partners and I sold GreenLeaf the second time, they gave me a Lucite trophy inscribed with the word LOCKSMITH because I was so good at unlocking the potential of people and getting the job done.

    I can be a hard boss. However, people who have worked for me will tell you that they never had to wonder where they stood with me. I was honest in setting expectations, honest with how I would measure success, and honest with people about how they were performing.

    Those who could deliver, they excelled. Those who couldn’t, didn’t stay long.

    The people who work for you want the truth, and they will respect you for telling it.

    Of course, telling the truth may not mean telling all you know. When we bought GreenLeaf back from Ford, it was losing a million dollars per month. We had to decide which 300 people to let go. We knew who with some work, but we had good reasons not to tell until the time was right.

    Remember that these situations are rare exceptions. You should strive to be direct and truthful with everyone in your business life. You never want to look back and wish you had just told the truth.

    The truth can be painful, but, as Don Egilseer used to say, it’s an elixir. It can be healthy to get an issue out in the open where you and your employees can work on it. Did a customer write you a bad check, which caused your account to be overdrawn, and you then had a check returned? It’s ok – call the person you gave the check to and explain what happened, how it’s your responsibility, and tell them exactly how you will make it good. If you can’t deliver on ANY expectation, get in front of it, take ownership, don’t whine or make excuses, and explain how you will fix it.

    Part of being reliable in your business life is about what you promise. Don’t take on projects you can’t do. Don’t overpromise. Always meet or exceed the deadlines you have agreed to.

    If you find yourself always busting your hump to meet a promise that seems impossible the minute after you’ve said it, you need to rethink how you work. Yes, it’s true that the people you promised appreciate your meeting the deadline, but they may not even notice how much blood and tears it cost you.

    Be smarter. Give yourself a realistic deadline and those same people will notice you delivered sooner than you promised. You will be happier and you will reach your career goals sooner.

    You should use the same thinking when you delegate tasks. Never give people on your project the REAL deadline. Always give a deadline that’s BEFORE your true deadline so that you can still stay on track when someone else screws up.

    One of my favorite sayings is “No one cares how bad the storm was; all they care about is whether you brought the ship in.”

    When you are the captain, make sure the ship gets there before you promised.

    Published in the November 2014 Edition of American Recycler News

  • Equipment Spotlight | NOV 2014 Truck Scales

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    As the electronics market expands exponentially, more and more efforts are made to prevent discarded electronics from ending up in landfills.

  • Eleven more GM facilities achieve landfill-free status

    Eleven additional General Motors facilities have achieved landfill-free status. The running total is 122 manufacturing and non-manufacturing operations spanning Asia, Europe, and South and North America that recycle, reuse or convert to energy all waste from daily operations.

    “Our landfill-free movement is part of our culture of continuous improvement embraced by teams globally,” said Jim DeLuca, GM executive vice president of Global Manufacturing. “Not only does it make our operations more efficient and help conserve vital resources, but we’re able to reinvest the money we get from recycling into future vehicles for our customers.”

    GM’s new landfill-free facilities include:

    •CAMI Assembly (Canada)
    •Colmotores Assembly (Colombia)
    •Joinville Engine (Brazil)
    •Zaragoza Assembly (Spain)
    •Zaragoza Stamping (Spain)
    •Grand Rapids Operations (Michigan)
    •Burton Warehouse and Distribution Center (Michigan)
    •GM Heritage Center (Michigan)
    •Shanghai Headquarters (China)
    •Luton Warehouse (England)
    •Fontana Warehouse and Distribution Center (California)

    The addition of these 11 facilities to landfill-free status helps GM avoid more than 600,000 metric tons of CO2-equivalent emissions. This is comparable to the greenhouse gas benefit of 15 million tree seedlings grown for 10 years.

    “Our ultimate goal is not to generate any waste at all,” said John Bradburn, GM global manager of waste reduction. “Until then, we do everything we can to ensure it doesn’t end up in the ground. From connecting our suppliers on special recycling projects to reusing packaging, we apply lessons learned across all of our operations to broaden the positive impact.”

    Employee awareness is key in the drive to landfill-free. Colmotores Assembly in Colombia launched awareness campaigns that engaged employees in reducing waste and sorting it correctly. GM’s Shanghai headquarters, a LEED-Gold facility, formed a “Green Team” spanning IT, finance, facilities, R&D and supply chain departments to identify recycling and waste reduction opportunities. Luton Warehouse attributes its success to a robust training initiative that drove a zero-waste culture.

    All of these facilities treat their waste as resources out of place and employ a number of methods to give them a second or third life.

    Reduce: Zaragoza Assembly changed its manufacturing process to reduce solvent consumption from its paint shop; it now reuses 80 percent of it. Packaging continues to be a large waste stream for many plants and CAMI Assembly is tackling it by setting aggressive targets to reduce non-reusable packaging.

    Reuse: Grand Rapids Operations’ in-house oil recycling saves GM $1.2 million per year. It recycles and reuses every gallon of oil it buys from a refinery several times.

    Recycle: CAMI Assembly turns scrap wood into mulch for its wetlands and Grand Rapids Operations recycles grinding wheels as sandpaper. The Grand Rapids site also works with a partner that processes wastewater treatment sludge into a fuel source for the building materials industry.

    Compost: Zaragoza composts wastewater treatment sludge to create fertilizer and Joinville Engine composts its organic cafeteria waste to provide additional nutrients for the site’s trees and plants.

    A strong network of recycling partners and suppliers helps facilities achieve their goals. Localizing the supply chain strengthens the business case and reduces overall carbon footprint. One of Zaragoza’s biggest challenges was finding a nearby partner to efficiently transport and treat paint sludge so it could be used to generate electricity. Burton Warehouse and Distribution Center hired a waste technician to help sort packaging waste generated from expanded shipping and distribution operations. A new recycling partner helped push GM’s Heritage Center to landfill-free status.

    According to GM, landfill-free has no finish line. For example, Colmotores Assembly set a goal to work with suppliers on minimizing packaging waste and designing products for easier reuse or recycling.

    GM’s goal is to achieve 125 landfill-free sites globally by 2020. The company already has met its 10 percent total waste reduction commitment – 7 years ahead of schedule.

    Published in the November 2014 Edition of American Recycler News

  • Pull-a-Part captures record number of mercury switches

    Pull-A-Part, a family business serving the do-it-yourself, used auto parts market, has achieved a milestone in the national effort to prevent mercury contamination in the environment caused by mercury switches in old cars.

  • GM Kokomo joins environmental stewardship program

    General Motors’ Kokomo, Indiana operation is now a member of the Indiana Environmental Stewardship Program.

  • Mazda tops fuel economy report

    According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)’s most recent Light Duty Fuel Economy Trends report, Mazda Motor Corporation is the most fuel-efficient auto manufacturer in the U.S for the second consecutive year.

  • Mercedes-Benz required to correct inaccurate fuel economy labels

    The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is revising estimates for two 2013/2014 Mercedes C300 4-matic vehicles, the FFV and PZEV, to ensure consumers are given accurate fuel economy values.

  • Salvaging Millions | OCT 2014 Tools for success – an ongoing series

    by RON STURGEON, AutoSalvageConsultant.com

    If I had to summarize the tools I’ve used to become successful and not all are financial, they are: (not in any order). In coming months, I will discuss each of these in more detail, so get your pen and pad ready!

    1. Always do exactly what you say you will, to everyone.
    2. Surround yourself with people that are smarter than you.
    3. Surround yourself with people that can do what you don’t, won’t or shouldn’t do, or that can do it better than you.
    4. Become an effective leader. Not a boss, a leader.
    5. Have a mantra of constant development and improvement.
    6. Be technologically savvy.
    7. You simply must keep perfect credit.
    8. Understand the financials and operating metrics.
    9. Rely on peers and other professionals, including consultants, to help you, being judicious about the cost of course.
    10. Be willing to promote yourself, talk about your successes and mentor others, sharing.
    11. Learn marketing and advertising.
    12. Learn to think strategically.
    13. There is no substitute for an extreme sense of urgency.
    14. Be the 80 percent person.
    15. Host weekly meetings with all key employees, with an agenda.
    16. Learn to delegate; tolerate mediocrity and the value of five seconds.
    17. Share with others, listen, be collaborative – you simply don’t know what you don’t know.
    18. Don’t be afraid to be a rebel – Push back, think out of the box, but be strategic and analytic about it.
    19. There’s plenty of money. Be patient and prove you can plan and then execute against a plan.
    20. Don’t create a solution for a problem that doesn’t exist and don’t breathe your own exhaust (get enamored by your own ideas excluding others).
    21. Watch and understand your competitors but don’t focus on them.
    22. Positive energy – There is no other way to survive the grueling crawl to success.
    23. Systems run like watches, people can let you down.
    24. Understand how your world is going to change – Many successful people start businesses, but their skills were limited to what they did.
    25. Do hard stuff first and have a good work ethic and a strong sense of urgency.

    Published in the October 2014 Edition of American Recycler News

  • Equipment Spotlight | OCT 2014 Auto Balers

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    As the electronics market expands exponentially, more and more efforts are made to prevent discarded electronics from ending up in landfills.

  • California proposes to treat ASR as hazardous

    A California bill that would classify auto shredder output as potentially hazardous waste subject to tighter oversight by state environmental regulators made its way through the legislature and to the governor’s desk for signing.

  • Worcester Polytechnic Institute awarded for lightweight metals manufacturing

    Diana Lados, associate professor of mechanical engineering at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) and founding director of the university’s Integrative Materials Design Center (iMdc), has received a 3 year, $424,000 award from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to support the development of a new way to manufacture metal-ceramic composites, which can be used to make vehicles lighter and more energy efficient, while significantly increasing their performance.

  • Ford’s Oakville assembly plant goes landfill-free in Canada

    The Oakville Assembly plant now sends no operational waste to landfills, an achievement that gives Ford Motor Company the distinction of becoming landfill-free at all its manufacturing facilities in Canada.

  • EPA and Kimberly Clark recognize professional truck drivers

    The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), along with the American Trucking Associations, Kimberly Clark and the entire trucking industry, honor the 3.1 million professional truck drivers that deliver America’s freight safely and securely every day.