As the announcement of his move to Charles Trents hits the media, we are delighted that Neil Joslin, the soon to be ex COO at e2e Total Loss Vehicle Management reflects on the past four years in the vehicle salvage and recycling industry.
Former Prime Minister Harold Wilson MP famously once said, “A week is a long time in politics”, and whilst the same can be said of many industries, when I reflect upon my last four years in UK motor salvage & recycling, it’s a fitting sentiment.
I came into this industry having completed 30-plus years in the insurance industry, working for various insurers in different functions but always in Claims. I didn’t know too much about motor vehicle salvage & recycling, for reasons which I’ll come onto, but I’d had some exposure through my career and from the interview process alone I knew I wanted to see more. I rather naively thought I’d see few similarities, that the insurance industry was a world away from my new vocation. I couldn’t have been more wrong. What I’ve discovered is that, like insurance, it’s a professional, regulated industry with much responsibility, that it’s eager to learn and improve with healthy competition, dynamic innovation, great characters, impressive customer service and where price is king!
For me, the last four years have seen the industry strive for higher standards and more professionalism, mostly under its own steam. The creation of the UK Standard for Reclaimed Parts from End-of-Life Vehicles, perhaps more commonly known as the VRA Certification Scheme, is a good example of the industry, through its representative body the VRA, providing a mechanism to improve the efficacy of the reclaimed parts sales process, increasing buyer confidence in the product and service. And more recently, we’ve seen work providers look to their salvage partners to help with carbon reduction initiatives as all UK businesses strive for carbon neutrality by 2050.
It’s also been great to see several high-profile leaders with different backgrounds come into the industry and, in my opinion, improve it; these additional skills can complement, not replace, the vast knowledge and experience that already exists, and the combination of both will drive further ambition and improvement.
Competition is certainly healthy in this market with different models available to a work provider according to their level of risk appetite. It’s fair to say that most companies excel at preparing and selling salvage vehicles in their online auctions.
But auction sales are transactional and what I’ve observed in recent months is a move to a more ethical discussion around salvage & recycling solutions, shifting the emphasis from price to value. I’m greatly encouraged that work providers are now appointing subject matter experts who have accountability for repair and salvage as one, and can see a world where both co-exist and complement each other in a better customer experience. Reclaimed parts usage in the repair process is an obvious example. I’m hopeful this increased level of engagement will see salvage and recycling have a seat at the same table as other professions such as panel lawyers and loss adjusters within supply chain management.
It’s progress that we now have specialist industry publications that shine a light on industry news, developments and future challenges and that we gain column inches in others. I sense there’s genuine interest in the sector. I’ve also noticed a big difference in how salvage & recycling companies now promote themselves and tell the story, with a huge element of pride and a sense of good. And why not – there are some great stories to tell!
At e2e, much of my work over the last four years has been aligned to the changing dynamics described above. e2e, through its previous incarnations, has been active in the salvage & recycling service industry [mostly through an insurer client base] for 35 years. Without losing all the great aspects enshrined in the company’s DNA, it was time for a freshen-up! Hence the company rebranded to e2e, introduced new products and began to set about improving standards, always with a focus on quality output. A refinement of the collecting network has resulted in even higher levels of service delivery, and implementation of a market-leading audit programme including regular site visits and a separate, independent audit process to ISO27001 standards has provided welcome evidence of high achievement to clients.
I’m very proud of the reputation e2e has in the market and the service it delivers. The company has seen a significant amount of change in a relatively short space of time, driven by its strong Executive Board and delivered by its team of excellent, loyal people. It’s been a real pleasure to have played a part in that. I’m also proud of the level that e2e engages at in the market, championing improvement in standards and professionalism for the industry and know this will continue as an ongoing ambition.
There’s still plenty of work to do in the industry, which will be achieved through increased collaboration, to help move closer to ethical, sustainable solutions that benefit everyone, not just those connected with salvage. Known knowns, such as the amendment to BS10125 and the IMI’s work on a new National Occupational Standard both seek to engage with the vehicle recycling industry, particularly for reclaimed parts. I’m also in no doubt the Salvage Code of Practice will be reviewed to ensure the outcomes of salvage categorisation reflect the safety principles that sit at the core of the Code. We must continue to address the less professional aspects of vehicle recycling in the UK, and stamp out illegal activity. And there are plenty of known unknowns on the horizon, for example, the disruption and opportunity to be brought by the UK’s drive to electrification of the roads. Undoubtedly there will be some unknown-unknowns, too! The industry carries a burden and a willingness to continue to engage, problem solve, create. There are some fantastic leaders in the industry doing inspiring things. What an exciting time to be involved!