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It Won’t Happen to Me

Why do we have a mindset of “It Won’t Happen to Me?”


Chad Counselman - it won't happen to me
Chad Counselman

“Fire! Fire! Run!”

That was the cry of an employee in the dismantling area of one of my sites on a cool March morning of 2009. The improper handling of gasoline coupled with a fellow dismantler working to cut a core support off of a vehicle resulted in a fire that ultimately forced us to completely rebuild the entire building. I never thought we would have a fire of this magnitude and had done nothing to proactively safeguard us from the possibility.

“Your Files have been Encrypted”

It’s Monday morning and this message appears on the screens of every workstation and the YMS Server. Your heart races and you are thinking, “Do we have a backup?” You are the victim of a ransomware attack that results in five days of lost sales, a draw on your Line of Credit at the bank in order to make payroll, and two salespeople are threatening to quit because their commission pay was low. Are you prepared for an attack like this?

Proactive versus Reactive

After multiple fires in the industry throughout the year of 2019, the ARA Convention Committee decided that we should hold two sessions related to fire safety during the ARA Convention in Charlotte. The same group decided to bring in an IT Professional that actually works on Top-Secret technology in Washington, DC to lead a session at the convention related to Ransomware and cyber-security. Both safety sessions and the Ransomware session were very sparsely attended. Why? Why didn’t many of us attend these sessions after learning about the fires and ransomware attacks over the past six months? Why do we have a mindset of “It Won’t Happen to Me?”

As an industry, we are reactive to some of the most critical issues when we should be proactive to known threats and concerns.

I know that the fear of being able to make payroll this week is the primary concern for many yards. I know that we are paying more for cars today than we have paid in the past. I know that scrap prices are lower than what we’ve seen in the past. I know that it’s easy to let the day-to-day ‘fires’ of running an Automotive Recycling Facility encompass our very existence. I know that I have chosen to neglect my family in order to get the pricing or inventory work done.

However, the day has come where outside forces can put us out of business in a matter of minutes. It’s time to open our eyes, see how the industry is changing, and make changes to our own operations in order to remain viable. It’s time to set up a fire-prevention plan, set up a plan to overcome a ransomware attack, set up a cyber-security policy, along with so many other concerns.

It is imperative that we find solutions to the daily, internal issues of our operations – like meeting payroll, pricing the parts, and keeping the trucks running – so that we can have an extra five hours per week to educate ourselves. We need to have enough time to learn what our industry is facing. We need to be reading the articles in industry publications. We need to have some knowledge of what might happen next month and next year. We need to know what dangers are lurking out there in order to properly prepare for them. We need to be visiting other salvage yards – and asking tough questions of one another – in an effort to make our operations better.

Proverbs 27:17 sums it up: “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.” Seek out a fellow yard owner and set up recurring meetings with them – in an effort to gain perspective on your own operation and the industry.

The opportunity for today’s Automotive Recycler is great. We are seeing record prices on cats. We have opportunities to sell parts that we have never sold before. Our industry is known for being able to adapt to change. We are able to overcome obstacles that would cripple a doctor or a lawyer. However, without the knowledge of what is coming, many of us may not have the time to adapt and overcome. Do your part – get involved, stay involved, and prepare for next month in the same way that you are preparing for tomorrow. Stay focused, driven, and thrive.

Chad Counselman