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SEASONED AUTO RECYCLERS


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ike many auto recyclers, GARY BEAGELL was born into the industry. In 1949, his father opened a gas station and repair shop that would soon become Don’s Auto Parts in Binghamton, NY. Beagell worked on and off at Don’s while growing up, but only joined the business in earnest in 1973 when Don’s suffered a terrible fire and everyone avail- able was needed to help clean up and rebuild the building. From then on Beagell dedicated his time and efforts to the auto recycling business. In 1979, Gary and Linda Beagell branched out to start Gary’s U-Pull It. During the 1990s, Beagell part- nered with other progressive auto recyclers and started four self-serve businesses around the country. In 2015, Beagell took another huge step and, along with seven other companies, formed Fenix, creating a public company with 700 employees. “That was a big step in our growth process, that’s for sure,” he says. As part of a pilot program, Gary’s U-Pull It is exploring the viability of recycling the plastic compo- nents of automobiles. The program involves SPI: The Plastics Industry, and the Canadian Recyclers Association. Today, Beagell serves on the Fenix Board of Directors and works as a consultant. During his long tenure of service to ARA, Beagell


served on the Executive Committee, culminating in his term as President in 2006-2007. He also has been a member of the Recycled Material, Governmental Affairs, and Technical Committees, as well as the Vehicle Recycling and Dismantling Committee chair and a Regional Director.


Advice for people coming into the industry? Beagell says work hard, be fair and honest, and “surround yourself with people who are better at what they do than you are.”


n 1980, DON COWELL got his start in the auto recycling busi- ness when he and another busi- ness owner located next to his truck washing business, in Des Moines, IA, joined forces. They combined their properties to expand the existing auto recy- cling business, and Cowell soon developed an extensive network of mentors and friends in the indus- try. One particularly good friend, Dirk Van Gorp, encouraged him to learn from the leaders of the indus- try by getting involved in IADRA and ARA.


I 36 Automotive Recycling | September-October 2016


Gary Beagell in 2015 receiving his award.


Becoming the first yard in Iowa with a Hollander computer system helped grow the business and develop its reputation, as did developing relationships across the country and into Canada through Cowell’s involvement with the state and national associations. Cowell served on virtually every committee and in


every officer position in both IADRA and ARA, cul- minating with his ARA Presidency in 1997. He par- ticularly enjoyed his tenure for several years on the Electronic Data Committee and on the Technical Advisory Committee, where he served with some of the best people in the business including Ed Anspach, Howard Veneklasen, Ginny Whelan, Mark Buessing, Greg Freeman and then-ARA Executive Director Bill Steinkuller.


“During my time, ARA was growing and on very solid finan- cial footing,” said Cowell. “Mem- bership was growing, the Certi- fied Automotive Recycler (CAR) program was developing, meet- ing attendance was high, and members were interested in serving in leadership position,” he said. One of the highlights of his tenure as president, Cowell mentioned was nomi- nating Ginny Whelan as ARA’s first female President. When Cowell and his part- ner agreed that their business relationship would not con- tinue, Cowell sold out and


Don Cowell


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