ARM, Where Did We Come From?

Through the early years of the Industry, there were several local associations organized by the auto salvage dealers. In the thirties there was the big union drive to organize the employees forcing the Industry to unite. During WW II, the issue of destroying good usable parts for scrap was another issue for organizing.

But, the one we're interested in, is the origin of ARM. It all started in 1954 when a group of Minneapolis auto wreckers (the term used for the Industry until recent years) joined together and formed the Minneapolis Auto Wreckers Association. The reason wasn't earth shaking or any threat to the business, but was to unite the businesses in the City for Saturday afternoon closings.

The need for an Association was realized and in less than a year the name was changed to "Twin Cities Auto Wreckers Ass'n", as firms from St. Paul and the suburbs, joined. Members realized that change was coming and a sleepy little industry was going to have to wake up.

Then, yards from the out state areas began joining and membership grew swiftly. In the lat 50's, the name was changed to the Minnesota Auto Wreckers Association (MAWA). In 1964, the name was changed to "Minnesota Auto and Truck Salvage Dealers' Association (MATSDA)" to reflect a more positive image. This name was used until the present name, "Automotive Recyclers of Minnesota" (ARM) was adopted in the early 80's.

Looking through the old magazines and newsletters, just like today, there were many issues and challenges facing the industry.

In the late fifties the problem of urban change began to take place. Most of the yards in the inner cities and towns were located near the downtown areas, making property more valuable for other uses. The flight to the suburbs and outer areas began to take place. For example, in 1955, Minneapolis had 29 yards in the City Limits. Today, there are three.

In 1965 there was the Highway Beautification Act, nicknamed the Lady Bird Bill, after President Lyndon Johnson's wife, Lady Bird, an avid advocate of the beautification cause. Our State took an aggressive step to eliminate this Industry. Your group organized and sponsored the "First Midwest Conference on Auto Salvage." The object was to convince legislators and administrators of the importance and economic impact of the Industry. This Conference became the forerunner of other conferences throughout the Country.

In 1969, was the year burning of cars was outlawed in the Metropolitan area. Soon to follow was the banning in the out state areas. It was a disaster for the industry because the scrap dealers wouldn't take unburned cars unless they were stripped by hand. But the problem was solved a couple of years later through the advent of shredders and flatteners.

1969 also was the year of the Association's first "Trade Show and Convention" at the Hopkins House. This was a trend that would continue into the future and was copied by many other state associations.

Moving through the 70's, the problem of abandoned automobiles cropped up. Naturally, the blame was laid on the Auto Salvage Dealer. After much deliberation and expensive programs were set up by the State, the problem went away as soon as the price of scrap went to a level where it was profitable to haul the abandoned cars. A solution that was advocated by the Association from the beginning.

Auto theft was a concern. A task force of State, local officials, law enforcement agencies and your Association committee, wrote and developed much of the legislation that is now in effect.

The Association had many peak years in this period. Membership soared to almost 80% of the known dealers. A quarterly magazine appeared and monthly newsletters grew to eight pages, not including separate call to action notices. Many of the fruits you are enjoying now, began in that period. Outstate conventions and resort meetings were common (and exciting. Ask any old timer).

Early in the 80's, the newly formed Environmental Pollution Agency, both on National and State levels began to impact the way you did business. The Industry is still in the center of this issue and I'm sure your aware of the consequences that are still developing, affecting the way you do business.

Some of us that have been around for a while will recognize some of the names of the past Presidents and their firms, of which some are extinct. Mickey Kvasnick, M&S Auto Parts, Minneapolis, Julius Chanen, Northern Auto Parts, Minneapolis; Norm Horton Sr., Norm's Auto Parts, St. Paul; Bunny Comsky Jr., Acme Auto Parts, St. Paul; Norm Horton, Jr., Norm's Auto Parts, St. Paul; Bill Knauff, Bill's Auto Parts, Newport; Dennis Mcneilus, Dodge Center; Alan Levey, Apex Auto Parts, St. Paul; Aron Dolinsky, St. Cloud Auto Wrecking, St. Cloud; Frenchy Vasser, Statewide Auto Parts, Shakopee; Don Henry, Don's Auto Parts, Foley; John Busik, Central Auto Parts, Fridley; Richard Dyke, Dykes Auto Parts, Worthington; Harry Huluptzok, John's Auto Parts, Blaine.

Newly enacted legislation on branded titles and other unforeseen circumstances will crop up, affecting the way you run your business in the future.

So, as you read, it hasn't been clear sailing through the years, but on the same side of the token, you're still here. The challenges can be solved. The industry has a bright future and my advice to all of you is to "Hang in there!"

About the author:

Joseph E. Garber began work in 1949, as partner with his mother in MAPCO, Minneapolis Auto Parts Company, an auto salvage company, after his father died. He bought out his mother's share in 1962 to become the sole owner. Later he brought in his wife Nancy as a partner. He was elected secretary of MATSDA, the Minnesota Auto and Truck Salvage Dealers Association, now ARM, also holding the posts of Managing Director, Executive Secretary and Executive Director during a fifteen year period of involvement. In 1965 he organized and chaired the first "Midwest Conference on Auto Salvage". He organized and chaired a three day Auto Salvage Convention and Trade Fair for the industry for the five state region, one of the first of it's kind in the nation. He served as Regional Director for ADRA, later ARA, for seven years. Meanwhile, he edited and published a bi-annual magazine, "The Minnesota Recycler". Forced by the Highway Department to relocate, he built a new, modern facility, receiving the industry's Beautification Merit Award in 1983. He sold MAPCO in 1990 and is now semi-retired.