Tom Hayward, the Director of I Need Spares, sheds light on his rationale behind the closure of their Essex-based Authorised Treatment Facility and the promising venture that has since evolved from it.
Closing down the ‘I Need Spares’ Authorised Treatment Facility (ATF) site in Essex at the end of 2022 was a significant decision, and it wasn’t made lightly. It was a choice born out of practicality and several factors that needed careful consideration. Our lease costs had surged by a hefty 50%, and the expenses tied to stock acquisitions were only going up and up. External factors were also putting a dent in our operational efficiency, making it increasingly challenging to keep the ATF site running.
One of the hardest parts of closing the ATF was having to say goodbye to the team in Essex, who had worked so hard and taught me so much about employing staff. I was able to support them in finding new opportunities in the time that we had left closing down the warehouse.
Although this decision to close was a change in direction, there were aspects that truly showcased our strengths. We excelled in process efficiency, meticulous compliance, and the art of sales, especially in the intricate task of sourcing parts for customers when our inventory came up short. This side of the industry, the skill of fulfilling order requests, has always given me great satisfaction.
We were also really passionate about selling on eBay (I miss the “ker-ching” sounds on my phone), one of the UK’s largest marketplaces that support small businesses. We are still an active member of the Vehicle Recycler Association (VRA), which supports vehicle recyclers, and although we no longer have an ATF site, I was proud to have been one of the early businesses to achieve the Vehicle Recycler Association Certification (VRAC), which set a standard within the industry.
ATF Professional has also encouraged me to write articles on my experiences, which I will be doing more of in the near future.
I’d like to take a moment to express my appreciation for the incredible support I’ve received from various corners of the industry, as well as those who have invested in me. A special moment for me recently was when I received the ‘Rising Star’ award at the inaugural ATF Awards Ceremony, which I was shocked and surprised to have received. Thank you for this recognition.
With my biggest satisfaction coming from helping other people, whether it be staff, friends, family or industry peers, the idea of a website/platform has always been brewing at the back of my mind. Building on my passion for helping others and connecting people and their parts led me to start designing a functional website. While I may not possess the coding skills of a software developer, the tools and resources available today have allowed us, over the last ten months, to develop a platform that will be all about spare parts, from requesting to quoting, a knowledge base, and a general ‘go-to’ website for anything related to spare parts.
I’ve realised the importance of focusing on one module at a time, even with the constant flow of ideas and solutions we could implement. These will ultimately come in time. At present, we have a working platform that has organically generated over 450 requests in the last four months, with 40% being quoted on. I owe a great deal of gratitude to our active users, who not only provide quotes but also offer invaluable feedback based on their experiences.
Our beta testing phase is now complete, and we’re excited to invite vehicle recyclers to join us. We offer an affordable monthly subscription plan that utilises token-based quoting. Our goal is to provide excellent value for both suppliers and requesters on our live platform.
Over the past ten months, this project has been self-funded and driven by a passion for our industry and the need to promote sustainability further. I have been able to visit a few businesses to showcase the website, and I would like to continue this as it keeps me attuned to the industry’s news and evolving needs. I am more than willing to roll up my sleeves and share my experiences from the ATF side with anyone seeking insights and knowledge. If I’m able to do any work with anything ATF or spare part production related for anyone, then this can help the platform’s financial stability until we reach a point where it can sustain itself independently.
If you are a professional recycler or supplier of spare parts, I invite you to join us on this journey.