Leaving a Legacy

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Creating an association focused on the future.

Wally Dingman, owner of Caughill Auto Wreckers in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ont., and longtime Board Member of the Ontario Auto Recyclers Association (OARA), stepped down last year as Chairman after holding the position for over a decade.

Eleven years ago, OARA was a smaller industry association that Wally rode up into the stratosphere even though he’ll be the first to say, “not me, I’m just one person.” But he led a small association and organized it in a way that allows it to punch way above its weight, and many ideas that started here in Ontario have gone international in scope. Wally has been at the helm of virtually all the new activities that we’ve encountered over the last 10 years.

One seemingly small action that has had a huge impact is that he recruited other volunteer auto recyclers to be on the board for extended periods of time, so there was good learning year-over-year. He and others on the board initiated many multi-year projects that continue to pay benefits. He stuck a stake in the ground and said we needed to modernize and professionalize when OARA began to flounder.

Innovative new projects

Now, everybody on the Board has a voice and everyone is prepared. Wally has always viewed stepping down when the systems and culture to help recruit people to ensure continuity were in place. Whether he’s there or not is irrelevant as the association has got to move forward without him—that’s his legacy.

Wally was at the reins when we launched the Canadian Auto Recycler magazine, and for the Green Recycled Parts branding campaign, which now exists in 20 countries around the world. Wally was also involved in the development of the National Vehicle Scrappage program with Environment Canada. He was at virtually every important meeting when it came to the licensing of the industry, which implemented new operating standards for all Ontario auto recyclers—he has probably attended over 100 meetings to make that happen within the last five years.

These projects haven’t been easy. When we established the Canadian Auto Recyclers Environmental Code (CAREC) it was difficult for him because we were basically telling our members that they would be audited to a standard with no regulatory backing in order to demonstrate to the public, government, media and manufacturers that we’re responsible even though the guy next door who wasn’t a member could still do whatever he wanted. But he stuck to that long-term vision of showing what good auto recycling looks like and highlighting the problems that irresponsible auto recycling creates.

Working for the association

Wally has always maintained that it doesn’t matter what kind of business you run—when you work on a board or on a committee you work for the association, not for yourself.

If you’re a late model recycler and you make decisions for the association that only help a late model facility, you’re not doing your job. You need to understand that there are little guys or Northern guys out there and you have to hear their concerns, so when you’re making a decision you’re making it for the good of the association. Wally has done a remarkable job pulling this together and setting us up for success.

Wally’s message for others involved in their industry, whether you’re a recycler, a repairer or an insurer, is: be involved in your association. Somebody has to do the work, so roll up your sleeves. You’d be surprised at what you can accomplish and how you benefit both personally and professionally.

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