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Editor's Notebook

Dead Letter Office

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Well, we can retire the letters "I", "T" and "E" from the industry alphabet. Don’t need ‘em because there is no ITE anymore.

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The announcement that the tire industry’s lone annual convention and trade show has passed into history ®“ more a whisper than a scream, actually ®“ really wasn’t a surprise. Dylan said, "You don’t need a weather man to know which way the wind blows." And for the last few years, the wind was clearly not blowing in the International Tire Expo’s favor.

Since moving into the LVCC’s South Hall in 2002, the ITE was well hidden behind rows of shiny wheels, models and piles of®ƒperformance tires!

While ITE exhibitors we talked to this year said they had pretty good traffic, the location of the ITE section made it hard for showgoers to find them. Last year, more than a few complained loudly about booth locations and resulting poor floor traffic.

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And even though it was THE showcase event for the tire industry, few tire companies were ITE exhibitors. The final ITE sported three recognizable tiremakers, three private branders, and 28, count ‘em 28, importers.

Across the aisle in SEMA-land? Twenty-one major tire brands had booths.

So for the first time in 84 years, the tire industry will be without it’s own annual event. We’ll be in Vegas next year just the same, but we’ll be attending "Performance Wheels and Tires, Sponsored by TIA."

It’s not TIA’s fault. Given all the circumstances, the ITE was the best that it could be. TIA’s done everything it could to pump life into the event, but it’s been an uphill fight all the way.

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Oh, we’ll have the renamed-and-refocused biennial event formerly known as the World Tire Expo. But not having our own annual event ®“ though it’s been part of another for the last seven years ®“ is a lousy, stinking shame.

The big boys won’t notice any change. It’s the small exhibitors ®“ key players in this industry ®“ who will end up deeper in the woods.

The tire industry, so desperate for a more positive image, lost more of its identity. No matter how anyone wants to spin it, this is a huge loss.

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Other observations from Lost Wages:

®′ Officials said overall attendance at the AAIW shows topped 105,000, up a whopping 21% from 2002. Show officials reported there were nearly 51,500 "registered buyers," up of 29% vs. 2002. That means 53,500 ®“ more than half of the total attendance ®“ were "sellers." If you eliminate registered spouses and multiple attendees from the same company, the true number of actual buyers probably fell between 33,000 and 39,000. Even on the high side, that’s 1.4 "sellers" for every real "buyer."

®′ If you had any doubt that the performance business is the ticket right now, the huge crowds gawking at hot wheels, slick tires and other curvy objects should be proof enough. Say what you will about some of the "sinsational" decorations, no one can deny that there is a lot of money in tricking out rides. And there were equally large throngs ®“ but not nearly as many thongs ®“ in the light truck/SUV and mobile electronics halls. Upgrades can be far more than just tires, wheels and a handful of bolt-ons. Dealers would do well to look at some of these other opportunities.

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The broken arm is healed, and the right arm replaced. Please welcome Mary Aichlmayr to the TR staff. Our new managing editor comes with a truckload of magazine experience covering supply chain technology, trucking and logistics, and engineering. Most recently, Mary was editor of Real Estate Data Insight, a national newsletter and Web site devoted to the real estate investment community. A talented writer with infectious enthusiasm, Mary is already hard at work on projects for 2004 and beyond.

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As we close out another calendar, it’s good to look back over the past year and be grateful for the blessings we enjoyed. We are eternally thankful for our loyal readers. The kind words, letters, e-mails and phone calls are always appreciated, and help us know that we’re meeting your needs. And that gratitude extends to all of valued advertisers. Thank you one and all for the continued support and interest. I hope we have lived up to your expectations. Expect to see even greater things next year.

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Hug your families, and have a safe and happy holiday season!

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