I have a fistful of ideas on bits of paper, but no BIG IDEA for this month. So, ala Larry King, and in an attempt to clear my desk of those bits of paper, here are some random thoughts to close the year:
As we all embark on much needed consumer education about tire care, keep in mind that many of the folks we need to educate just voted for two or three people for president.
During the heated first two months of the BFS recall, the consumer media was quick to quote such alleged "consumer safety advocates" as Safety Forum and Strategic Safety, which are fronts for suit-happy lawyers. Perhaps, after they get done regulating the tire industry, the government can focus on protecting consumers from these unregulated, unscrupulous groups that are nothing but pit bulls pretending to be watch dogs.
Can’t think of a better person to lead BFS out of the darkness than John Lampe. Neither can BFS dealers, who surprised the new top man with a long standing ovation when he was introduced at the recent consumer tire dealer meeting in Las Vegas. Here’s hoping he has the strength, wisdom, patience and luck needed to re-re-build the Firestone brand, and to end what is surely a living nightmare for his company.
Nearly 20 million vehicles were recalled in the U.S. last year, three million more than the total number of vehicles sold in this country that year. That says a lot about the impact of driving component prices and manufacturing costs down.
One BFS recall story left my jaw hanging: Seattle’s KIRO-TV discovered several area tire dealerships were actively reselling recalled Firestone tires. Said one bright store manager: "I don’t feel bad because I know they’re just going to take them off and trade them in."
And it wasn’t just these morons in the Pacific Northwest. No, we had a couple of equally bright fellas down in Tennessee who figured this was a good idea, too.
So this leaves me to ask: What in blazes could you people possibly have been thinking? Hadn’t this recall hurt the industry enough that you felt obliged to make it worse for no other reason than pure greed? What other hateful things do you do to your customers? Dump sugar in their fuel tanks? Pull bogus repairs and overcharge them? Mount their tires with ether and a match? Spit in their coffee? Sadly, I know that these greed-heads weren’t the only ones who tossed reason out the window. But, frankly, they ought to bring those idiots up on charges. Before their brilliance strikes again.
Every once in a while, some people need to be reminded that the difference between "class" and a more colorful descriptor is just two letters.
It was truly heartening to see such solid trade show floor traffic during ITE this year. Even though overall dealer attendance was down slightly from last year, there were still a lot of red buyer badges going to booths on the last day of the show. Remember the waning days of the old NTDRA show – Atlanta and New Orleans being the last two – when the phrase "BB in a boxcar" was an apt description?
To the friends we’ve had over the years – and all the new ones we’ve made this past year – we wish you joy and peace this holiday season, health for you and yours, and a prosperous new year.
I leave you with this fine verse by 17th century poet George Wither:
Then wherefore in these merry days
Should we, I pray, be duller?
No, let us sing some roundelays
To make our mirth the fuller.
And whilst we thus inspired sing,
Let all the streets with echoes ring.
Woods, and hills, and everything
Bear witness we are merry.