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Empowering Wheels: Linda Pitman’s Revelations on Women’s Journey in Auto Recycling and ARA Presidency

Auto Recycling World had the pleasure of conversing with Linda Pitman, an esteemed figure who served as the President of the Automotive Recyclers Association (ARA) in 2008. Linda shares insights into her extensive background within the US auto recycling sector, the evolution of women’s roles in the industry, the significance of ARA membership, and her continued commitment through the ARA Scholarship Foundation.


Empowering Wheels: Linda Pitman's Revelations on Women's Journey in Auto Recycling and ARA Presidency p
Linda Pitman (inset)

A Journey from Salvage Yards to ARA Presidency in 2008

I grew up in the auto recycling community because my Dad began his salvage yard in 1947. After graduating from college, I went to work in the family business.  It would only be a year or so, but I ended up staying over 40 years.

My Dad became involved in the ARA ( then known as (natwa) in the early 1960s and served as President in 1970.  Perhaps then, in the back of my mind, I thought someday I might be president. I began to attend ARA conventions in the 1990s. After a couple of years, I got involved with several committees. The longer I served on those committees, the more involved I became. The feelings of belonging and participating in my industry grew stronger.  In a sense, it felt good to contribute to the industry that generously supported my family’s chosen field.

The idea of being president was still there, and I later became president of the Scholarship Foundation, which I believe began the journey to becoming president of the ARA. Also, my Dad and I are the only father and daughter to have been president of ARA – a distinction that I hope is added to by a few more fathers and daughters at some point in ARA history.

The Ascendance of Women in Auto Recycling and ARA Leadership

In the 1970s, the industry was heavily male-dominated, with women mainly involved in bookkeeping or answering phones. Computers and the internet were non-existent, requiring manual interchange book searches. Initially marginalized, women gradually integrated, handling administrative duties and working alongside men. They contributed to “cleaning up” facilities and changing industry culture. Women adeptly managed paperwork and research as environmental regulations emerged, showcasing patience. Over time, women assumed broader roles, engaging in advertising, computer advancements, and staying informed about industry changes. Today, women own, manage, and work in various capacities within the automotive sector, demonstrating their indispensable contributions and paving the way for future involvement.

As the third female president, I have witnessed more and more women becoming part of the association and in facilities across the country.  There are now women not only participating in ARA as member facilities but also female vendors serving our association and industry.

ARA Membership: Navigating Industry Shifts and Fostering a Recycler’s Family

To me, being a member of the ARA has been and is still important.

The federal level regarding the recycling industry undergoes frequent changes these days. ARA keeps a close watch on all things pertaining to auto recycling and continues to help with laws affecting the industry as well as mandates from government such as EPA and OSHA.  Also, with things like the ARA University, training is available on levels for ARA members and their employees.

Empowering Wheels: Linda Pitman's Revelations on Women's Journey in Auto Recycling and ARA Presidency p two

Most important (at least to me) is the feeling of family within ARA. Recyclers have a chance to meet other recyclers and learn that we all have the same problems and/or concerns. Attending conventions is nice to catch back up with others, you know, an excellent time to meet others and learn new things that have happened. I have made friends through the years with many recyclers, and they remain friends. You can rest assured that other members are willing to help you with any problems, concerns, or ideas. From facilities with five employees to those with 50 employees, it’s a family, and I am still very proud to be associated with it.

ARA Scholarship Foundation’s Legacy and Impact

The Scholarship Foundation was set up in the 1960s. It was started to help member facilities employees’ children have scholarships for higher education. This is one of the benefits of an ARA membership. Only direct members can have their employees’ children apply. For a student to apply, it may now be for college or trade schools. It is our hope that some of these students will go into the recycling industry. I still serve on the Foundation as secretary/treasurer and was honored to serve as its president for several years.

ARA Membership and the Power of Staying Informed

I think the main thing is to ‘pay attention’. Try to keep up with changes within the industry and especially be a part of ARA. The dues are worth every cent. The association helps its members with many aspects of the industry they may need help with or more information on. It can make your one voice into many voices on many issues.