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Improving Our 'Technology' With More Expertise and Experience

November 15, 2011
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Got a letter recently from an "Appreciative Fan" of the tire industry. More precisely, of the technological wonders that are today's radials.

"I'm 78. I've driven on a lot of tires. I would like to thank the tire industry for designing and manufacturing better and safer tires," wrote Warren Modell of Bronx, N.Y., who mentioned that he "should have written this letter many years ago" out of his "admiration for the entire tire industry."

And he’s right. I mean, about the technology part. In recent months we have seen significant announcements about new technology breakthroughs and concepts. Michelin is pairing with Amyris Inc. to develop raw material isoprene from “renewable feedstocks.” Dow Chemical and Lehigh Technologies are working together to gain greater use of micronized rubber powders made from old tires in the production of new tires.

Goodyear is working on technology in which tires will be able to self-maintain their own inflation pressure. Cooper – and all tiremakers – continues to push rolling resistance technologies. And Bridgestone’s latest is a tire that instantly senses and evaluates road surface conditions to help drivers react to changing traction conditions.

Yep, Warren, you ain’t seen nothing yet! Stick around, this is about to get good!

World-class technology is the A-train to success in delivering a world-class product. But all of that is tied directly to having good, talented and knowledgeable people.

We don’t make tires, but we do try to deliver a world-class level of experience and expertise. That’s what you should expect from Tire Review.

Over the past few months you’ve doubtlessly seen a few new authors among our ranks, and there will be a few more in coming months. Some of the new contributors are replacing others who have moved on because of career changes, and a couple are straight additions to bring you even more information about the tire industry.

Mac Demere is a name you might be familiar with. I first met Mac when he was with Motor Trend magazine and I was a rather green tire writer for another magazine. He took me on a few hot laps, giving me vivid, non-stop play-by-play as he ate up every inch of Road Atlanta, a level of performance driving concentration I have seen from very few.

More recently, Mac worked as a tire test driver and event coordinator for Michelin. Now, among his varied freelance auto writing duties and graduate degree studies, Mac has taken over our bi-monthly Perfor­mance column, and I think you have already found that Mac’s unique insight can be invaluable in helping you help your customers make smart tire choices.

When long-time contributor Skip Scherer had the opportunity earlier this year to become a “loaned executive” with the United Way, he jump­ed at the chance. And it is a great opportunity that I know he is enjoying, but it left a hole in our coverage of TPMS-related issues and our popular Tire Tech column.

Enter Rudy Consolacion, another name many of you will remember from his days as a tire engineer with Goodyear and Kumho Tire USA and then as motorsport manager with Kumho. Today, Rudy is director of operations for DriveTeam Inc., an Akron-area based performance driving school for teens, adults, seniors, even police officers.

When he’s not doing that, Rudy will be our new TPMS and Tire Tech column writer. His first Tire Tech column ran last month, and he will have a full schedule in 2012.

There is no argument that other than annual market round-ups, Tire Review has been weak in its coverage of ag and OTR tires. We have been remiss, but no more.

Joining our staff with regular columns on these highly specialized tires are two other familiar names – Tim Good and Jeff Vasichek.

Tim recently concluded a 37-year career with Goodyear, the last 22 years in OTR tire sales and service. There is very little about the giant OTR tire market that the Akron native doesn’t know, and Tim maintains direct contact through his consulting business.

Earlier this year, Vasichek stunned the industry when he left an executive position with Titan International to become vice president of sales and marketing with Baldwin Filters. And even though he certainly will be successful in another industry, Jeff wanted to keep his hands in the ag tire business. That’s good for you because there are few people with the background and expertise in ag tires, farmers and farm tire service.

Rounding things out is retail tire business expert Rick Barnhart, who will be putting his knowledge to use on extensive feature articles for Tire Review. He has 35 years of experience in retail automotive and tire sales and customer service, most of which are with a major tire retailer. His retail tire consulting business works with other dealers to improve their businesses.