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Incoming TIA President Mike Berra Outlines His Plans

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At this point, I think we have all become somewhat fatigued by the constant drumbeat of bad economic news. As I prepare for my term as president of the Tire Industry Association (TIA), I’m encouraged that I am taking leadership of an organization that continues to grow.

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Just two examples of this are the fact that we continue to attract new members to the association, and that our training programs are educating more people than ever before. It’s truly a great opportunity, and I hope to leave TIA in an even better position by the end of my term.

One of the ways I hope to accomplish this is by continuing the efforts that current TIA President Wayne Croswell has made to unite our industry. Both he and TIA Executive Vice President Roy Littlefield feel very strongly that, now more than ever, we all need to put aside any suspicions or preconceived ideas and unite behind a common set of goals and ideals. TIA has the knowledge, contacts, and resources to make this a reality.

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This includes continuing our work to make the new Global Tire Expo – Powered by TIA the event for the tire industry. Wayne and Roy have done an impressive job in forging closer ties with SEMA and throughout the industry in order to make the Expo a true tire industry event. While there is much work ahead, I am confident that we can sustain the positive momentum that has already been started. We also have been working closely with the tire manufacturers to obtain their input and support in our efforts, and the reaction from them has been quite positive.

This outreach to the manufacturers will not begin and end with the Expo. From our training programs to our special events and other efforts, it’s imperative that we find as many opportunities as possible to draw them into the fold.

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I want to make a special point of reassuring our other members that our outreach to the manufacturers is not something to fear; it’s something they should embrace. When we include the manufacturers in our efforts, it will not be at the expense of other stakeholders. Intelligent tire dealers understand the need to be inclusive instead of exclusive; if manufacturers are strong, dealers will be stronger, as well.

Having the entire industry unite behind TIA will also serve us well in the halls of government. The massive health care legislation that was passed this year affects everyone, whether you are a manufacturer, tire dealer, recycler or retreader. Without an organization like TIA, we would have no one to be our voice on these critical issues, and we would be left to the mercy of others.

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The industry also continues to face many other legislative challenges, with issues such as Right to Repair having the potential to make a major impact on our members’ businesses. Thus, I want to make sure that TIA’s legislative efforts continue at a robust pace.

We will also maintain our efforts to work with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) on the consumer education mandates of both the TREAD Act and the Energy Bill of 2007. TIA remains the best-equipped, most-knowledgeable organization to handle this vital effort.

Another goal of my presidency is to continue TIA’s role as the world’s leading tire training organization. As the chairman of our Training Committee for the past two years, I am very familiar with the educational programs that TIA has to offer. Even though my company does not service tires, I recognize the numerous advantages of having trained technicians, and I encourage my customers – as well as all tire industry professionals – to participate. As a retreader, I know that when tires are properly serviced, everyone benefits. With trained technicians who follow industry safety guidelines, there is a better chance our tires will be installed correctly and serviced properly, which reduces everyone’s tire costs and liability exposure.

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With the completion of the Comm­ercial Tire Service and Earthmover Tire Service programs, and a new Automotive Tire Service program set to be released in 2011, TIA remains the recognized industry leader in technician training and certification. One look at the list of active participants in the Commercial Tire Service Program is a virtual “who’s-who” of the truck tire dealer market in the United States and Canada.

I believe training and certification is one of our key strengths, so I am committed to continuing the development of new programs, as well as to continue to update existing programs as necessary.

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I’ll continue to make TIA’s events – like the Global Tire Expo and OTR Conference – the premier venues for tire industry professionals to get together to exchange ideas, network and learn the technological developments in the industry. I hope I’ll be seeing you at this year’s Expo in the South Hall of the Las Vegas Convention Center.

We’ve expanded our educational sessions by creating four session tracks: TPMS at 10, Truck Tires at 10, Tires at 2, and Management at 4. Each of these sessions will be led by top experts in their field, and you’ll learn relevant, practical and timely information that will help you in your daily operation.

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You’ll also still have time to be able to see all of the new tire industry technology, catch up with current business contacts and make new ones.

And, if you’re in the OTR sector, I hope you’ll be at our 2011 OTR Conference, which will take place at the Doral Golf Resort & Spa on Feb. 16-19 in Miami. In addition to all of the scheduled top-notch sessions, we’ve brought back the Kick-Off Gathering, which will feature tabletop displays. And, you’ll also have the opportunity to play one of the premier golf courses in the U.S. – the Blue Monster at Doral.

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I also intend to maintain TIA’s efforts on the global stage wherever possible. And I want to explore ways we can make TIA a leading provider of “green” best practices that will serve our members well in their day-to-day operations.

TIA will also keep the ball rolling on our efforts to be a “go-to” authority for journalists on consumer and legislative issues, training expertise and other tire-related subjects. As evidenced by the national and international media coverage we received preceding the enactment of the Chinese tire tariff, we continue to be viewed as a credible, reliable source.

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I hope by now it’s clear that TIA is in a good position to face the challenges ahead. But, we must continue to adapt quickly to the ever-changing environment in order to provide our members with the best possible value for their money.

If you are currently a TIA member, I’d like to personally say thank you. Your support is absolutely critical, and we’re glad you see the value in TIA membership.

If you are not a TIA member, I hope you will give us a chance to show you how membership in TIA can help our industry, and, more importantly, your bottom line. If you have let your membership lapse, I ask you to reconsider.
Call us at 800-876-8372, or e-mail us at [email protected], and let us show you why your membership has the potential to pay for itself many times over.

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With thanks to Wayne Croswell for his expert leadership this past year, and given the solid leadership of Roy Littlefield and the hard-working staff at TIA, I’m looking forward to the many good things that will be in store this coming year.

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