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From Dismantling VWs to Leading Green Parts: David Bradley’s Journey in Vehicle Recycling

ATF Professional had the privilege to speak with David Bradley, Managing Director of Wellskye Ltd, an automotive parts supplier, to delve into his journey within the vehicle recycling industry. From his humble beginnings running a yard in mid-Wales to leading the Green Parts division at SYNETIQ, David’s expertise spans the breadth of the field. Now, as the driving force behind Wellskye Ltd, he shares his insights on the industry’s evolution and the future of independent yards.

 

From Dismantling VWs to Leading Green Parts: David Bradley's Journey in Vehicle Recycling soc
David Bradley
A Winding Road to Green Parts Leadership 

It’s been a rollercoaster of a journey. It all started in my first yard in Powys, dismantling VWs. We then expanded into a larger site in Doncaster, which we rented from none other than Richard Martin of Motorhog. After a few years of trading at the two sites and a change in the markets, we decided to close the Doncaster branch of our business. This is when I figured we would be moving back to Wales where my company was still trading with my business partner at the time. However, Mrs Bradley had other ideas and was well-settled in Yorkshire. Richard had approached me prior to this on a couple of occasions, offering me a position at Motorhog’s head office Branch in Doncaster. So I took the plunge, went for a meeting, and told him I would stay for six months; that was in 2016. Six months became seven years. In my opinion, it was here I met the best Op’s man in our industry, Ray Curry. We instantly gelled and created a partnership that helped the team build something we were all very proud of and very passionate about. 

Motorhog went from strength to strength right up to the Merger with Car Transplants, DH Systems & FAB Recycling to form what you now know as SYNETIQ Limited. 

My role at SYNETIQ started as the E-Commerce Manager for parts sales, which lasted just over four years. After that, I was promoted to the Head of Green Parts, which meant I was responsible for all the parts channels at SYNETIQ. I held that position until July 2023, when I left to start my current venture, Wellskye.

A Return to Entrepreneurship

There is a list of factors that made me take this leap of faith, some of which I am happy to share. During my time with SYNETIQ, I had the pleasure of working with some fantastic and knowledgeable people. I built great teams and departments around me that functioned fantastically and were so well driven by the leaders I had appointed. Every one of those managers made me look fantastic (you know who you are, guys – keep smashing it!). SYNETIQ had been acquired by IAA, which Ritchie Brothers then acquired, and the growth was there; the business was scaling massively, and I felt the challenge was complete for me. I thrive on growth for both myself and the business, and I felt the business didn’t need me anymore. Also, when something becomes that big, corporate or international, making impactful changes can be quite a task. I felt it was now or never, and I didn’t see myself still working for SYNETIQ in five years’ time, so I secured the site in Hull.

From Dismantling VWs to Leading Green Parts: David Bradley's Journey in Vehicle Recycling p

Reflecting on the Industry’s Transformation

There have been so many changes in the industry, but the rise in online sales is a massive one for me. When I first started, 90% of our sales were done online. Most big names in the industry then were still doing the majority of their business over the phone. Winning in the online space was very easy for me back then, as the competition was small. eBay has been getting massively behind the growth in our categories in recent years, and it has just escalated. Education, software systems and data have made the online competition very strong. Another instrumental change is the constant growth in the number of green parts used in the insurance repair sector. The transition into these markets has quite rightly obtained a lot more respect and recognition for our industry. It’s now safe to say, “We are an authorised treatment facility for the recycling of end-of-life vehicles.” Without someone saying, “Whatever, you’re a scrap yard mate, haha!”

People and Digitalisation in an Ever-changing Industry

First and foremost, PEOPLE are the key. The lack of specific industry knowledge is quite an issue and one of the key stumbling blocks we face. With our industry’s new recognition and corporatisation, more and more people are joining it from various other backgrounds. Sometimes, this can be a good thing, but more often than not, it can be bad. Our industry is so unique and specific that applying the dynamics from another business sector is very hard. Our sector has grown so quickly that there just aren’t enough experienced people available. 

From Dismantling VWs to Leading Green Parts: David Bradley's Journey in Vehicle Recycling p two

Digitalisation has been instrumental to the scalability of our Industry, and I have worked with most programs. I have now chosen to partner with Eladene Systems for my business. The two main reasons for me are: the vehicle data is supplied by the OEM themselves and not a third party. Probably more importantly, the software owner is a dismantler himself, and this is a system created by a dismantler for the dismantler. The data provided by the system is instrumental to a new start-up. I have no current contracts, so I can choose exactly what breaking stock comes into my business. This data helps drive the decisions behind which vehicles to target. Yes, I may be paying slightly more for vehicles, but this information helps ensure I can maximise every unit. Hopefully, working smarter, not harder.

The Future of Independent Yards

There will always be a need for smaller independent companies. In my opinion, there will be a gap in the market that needs to be filled by a good dismantling outfit. More insurers now see the benefits of using green parts for their repairs.  This could mean that stock may have to be retained for those markets if you hold the contract. This helps those businesses reach their carbon targets and is great for all involved. 

Independents can choose their stock, as mentioned previously. They can also decide when and where to sell it. There is no shortage of vehicles in the UK, and too many to be processed by the ‘big boys’ alone. I am very fortunate as I have had a small yard in the past and helped scale the largest. I have learned so much over the years from people like Richard & Dave Martin, Ray Curry, and Jason Cross, to name but a few, who are all experts in different parts of our industry. Starting now from ground zero means I can cut out all the mistakes learned in the past and set off on the right foot without too many hurdles … hopefully!

To find out more about Wellskye, please visit www.ebay.co.uk/str/wellskye or email dave@wellskye.co.uk / info@wellskye.co.uk

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Owain Griffiths

Owain Griffiths

Head of Circular Economy at Volvo Cars

Owain joined Volvo Cars in June 2021 to lead Circular Economy in the Global Sustainability Team. The company has committed to being a circular business by 2040 and has financial, recycled content and CO2 based targets for 2025, all of which Owain is working across the company to make happen. Owain previously worked for circular economy consultancy Oakdene Hollins where he advised businesses on evidence led circular economy implementation. 

Turning into a circular business and the importance of vehicle reuse and recycling.

The presentation will cover the work Volvo Cars is doing to achieve 2025 but mainly focus on the transformational work towards 2040 and the business and value chain changes being considered. Attention will be paid to the way vehicles are being dealt with at the end of life and the complexities of closing material and component loops. Opportunities and challenges which Volvo Cars is facing will be presented including engagement with 3rd parties and increasing pressure from stakeholders.

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e2e Total Loss Vehicle Management [e2e] is the UK’s only salvage and automotive recycling network with nationwide, environmentally compliant sites delivering performance resilience and service reliability to the insurance and fleet markets.  The network’s online salvage auction www.salvagemarket.co.uk drives strong salvage resale values and faster sales.  e2e’s salvage clients have access to the network’s stocks of over 5 million quality graded, warranty assured reclaimed parts. 

The power of the network model means e2e has the ability to influence industry standards and is committed to continually raising the bar whilst redefining the role and perceived value of the salvage operator.  Network members adhere to robust service level agreements, against which they are audited, in order to ensure performance consistency and a market leading customer experience.  

The salvage and recycling operating environment is evolving rapidly, and e2e is anticipating, listening and responding to changing market needs.  Regulatory compliance, ESG, reclaimed parts, customer experience, EVs, new vehicle technologies, data and reputation risk are just some of many considerations linked to the procurement of salvage services.  e2e will drive further added value to clients and members through the adoption and application of emerging technologies, continuing to differentiate its proposition and position salvage services as a professional partnership. 

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