Continuing Education Pays Off - Tire Review Magazine

Continuing Education Pays Off

Ongoing education helps ag tire consumers and keeps a dealer's team safe and sound.

TIA offers two courses specifically for the farm tire segment for dealers looking to continue their education. Or dealers could reach out to their suppliers and take courses such as Firestone Ag University or Michelin’s online training.

An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.” Benjamin Franklin offered those words of advice in his book “The Way to Wealth” all the way back in 1758. It was our nation’s first book on financial advice and in many ways Franklin hit the proverbial nail on the head.

But I don’t think old Ben’s advice is limited to financial investing. How did that old proverb go? Give a man fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.

How about this: Tell your employees to get the job done today and you’ll pay the bills tomorrow; invest time and resources in your employees to improve and build their skills and knowledge and you’ll reap dividends for a lifetime.

The world is complex. You don’t need me to tell you that. Just turn on the television news, open your USA Today app on your tablet or smartphone, or for you traditionalists out there, crack open your local paper in the morning. The same technology that can put a cruise missile within about three feet of a target from 3,000 miles away is the same technology used in precision farming for farm planning, field mapping and soil sampling.

Technology can be a beautiful thing. Just look at the current generation of tractors from leading manufacturers like Deere and Case IH (just to name a few). With the help of modern technology and equipment, farmers today can accomplish so much more than they ever could have in the past. But how do we harness the power of new technology? Or for that matter, how do we make sure that new technology works properly and is ready to go when we are? Where does it all start?

To quote another wise saying, “knowledge is power.” What I’m really talking about is training, except I don’t like the word training. That implies that knowledge is a one-time deal and then you’re done.

Knowledge has no finish line. What worked yesterday doesn’t work today, and what works tomorrow won’t work a year from now. Because our business is dynamic, so must our investments in continuous employee education.

Many of the most successful people in the world share common characteristics. Most of them are compelling leaders, they’re passionate about what they do, they tend to be great communicators, and they recognize that education is a lifelong process.

In other words, to be successful, one must wholeheartedly commit to lifelong education. As our business continues to change, as farming technology and equipment continues to become more complex, successful farm tire dealers must commit to and consistently re-commit to lifelong learning.

Education and knowledge is the glue that keeps this incredible (and expensive) technology working in the fields. Education and knowledge allow us to harness that technology and put it to work for us, lead to greater efficiencies, help us to accomplish more with less, and perhaps most importantly, keep us safe and out of the hospital (or worse!).

Training Lessens Mishaps

When it comes to farm tire education, the Tire Industry Association is the leading authority. Let me preface this by saying that I’m not a TIA employee, and I’m not on the board of directors. I believe in what TIA does and the commitment they’ve made to the industry we care so much about.

If you’re reading this article, there’s a good chance you’ve been involved in the tire industry for a while. And if that’s the case, there’s a good chance you’ve been affected in one way or another by a tire failure.

I’m not talking about the kind of tire failure that puts one at their local tire dealer paying for a plug/­patch combo repair.

I’m talking about the heartbreaking stories that we unfortunately still hear about; the young man on a service call in the field or on a highway who was mortally injured by a tire failure or the tire technician who wasn’t using a tire cage when airing up a split rim. It’s the kind of stuff that tears your heart out and it’s precisely why TIA works so hard to provide educational resources and continuous safety training.

“It’s often overlooked, but the farm tire service business is dangerous. Strained muscles, heat stroke and equipment-related injuries are all relatively common,” says Jay Christman, TIA trainer and Midwest regional sales manager for Alliance Tire Americas. “These risks can be minimized with proper training on the correct way to perform these services.”

“The risk of injury is significant due to the size of these products. Proper training techniques for removing and installing are critical to avoid injury,” says Jimmie Hutto, commercial sales manager for Ohio-based distributor K&M Tire. “It’s not just safety. Farm tire dealers should also train their technicians to prevent loss due to improper inflation or misapplication.”

TIA offers two courses specifically for the farm tire segment on its website at The first is called Basic Farm Tire Service and includes 11 modules from details on tires and wheels to installing and removing liquid ballast and everything in between. The instructor’s guide is $295 for TIA members or $600 for non-members and includes a DVD and student workbook. The cost of additional student workbooks are $45-$85 each based on volume, a miniscule investment into the safety of your team.

TIA also offers a Hands-On Farm Tire Service Class, which will be hosted August 12-14 this year in Gothenburg, Neb., which is about a 250-mile drive from Omaha.

The certificate program includes step-by-step instructions for installing tire and wheel assemblies for farm, agricultural and construction applications, as well as operating a service truck and installing and removing liquid ballast. The program costs include lunch and are $495 each for one or two attendees or $445 each for three or more attendees.

There are, of course, many other, excellent farm tire training courses offered or sponsored by tiremakers. Most notably, Bridgestone Americas offers Firestone Ag University and Michelin North America has its website.

Education More Than Safety

Successful education programs extend beyond safety and include product and service knowledge, as well. According to one industry expert, “successful farm tire dealers should seek a more professional approach to relationships with farmers and farm customers. That will likely come from both tire manufacturers and leading tire distributors, alike. Sales will be about more than just price and which tires are in stock.

“Farm tires are becoming more technical, performance-oriented and costly,” said the expert. “The key is to use the cost-benefit approach to show that better tires offer lower overall cost. Smart dealers will be able to identify what their customer really needs in a given application.”

The bottom line is this: If you think of employee education and development as a cost, you’re missing the point. If you approach these initiatives as an investment, you’ll continue to see dividends many, many years from now in the form of repeat customers, improved profitability, higher levels of customer satisfaction and lower employee turnover.

“There’s a small cost to farm tire service education. But it may be the best investment you’ll ever make in your business,” says Christman. “You’ll prevent accidents and injuries from happening in the first place. Plus, you’ll create trusted professionals who will bring additional business and drive profitability as a result of excellent service.”

That old adage about the customer being number one is missing one very important piece: Your dedicated and hard-working team of employees. That’s something I think even Ben Franklin could hang his hat on.

This article appeared in the April 2014 edition of Tire Review. You can read the entire issue on your phone or tablet by downloading the Tire Review app.

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