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Editor's Notebook

New Angle to Old Problems

TIA’s “Recommended Practice” approach to used, aged tires makes sense. RMA should agree, right?

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As long as I’ve known Randy Groh, the latest TIA president has always been straight up. Respectful about his approach, but he means what he says. He asks a lot of questions, gathers a lot of input, and when he says “Go,” you go.

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This is what makes Randy such a strong follow-up to Larry Brandt, who completed the association reorganization push of his predecessor, Mike Ber­ra, and drove TIA’s government rel­ations and dealer training to new levels.

Groh used the recent Global Tire Expo/SEMA Show to stake his education position with a three-fold slate:

• Continue growing member and tech training

• Introduce a consumer tire education effort

• Bring some clarity for dealers on used tires and tire aging

Berra focused on refurbishing the inner workings of TIA and laying out an aggressive training future. Brandt brought those plans home – and then some, with the highly successful training road show that reached dealers and techs in 28 cities last year.

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Groh’s platform is no less ambitious and may be the most daring and difficult, with focus on nagging industry issues (tire aging and used tire sales) that have become particularly troublesome over the past decade, and taking the first tentative steps into the great unknown – trying to educate the least focused link in the tire buying/care chain: the consumer.

Having been highly critical of lack of firm action on the sale of used tires and the entire tire aging issue (which is now older than some of the oldest tires being sold today), Tire Review appl­auds the positive move forward – and the uni­que approach being suggested.

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The “Recommended Practice” tag has been used for years in many other markets – notably both the automotive and trucking industries – as a way to bring a well-studied and considered processes, procedures, systems or even quasi-regulations to bear without lengthy debate and misguided politics.

While no one gets arrested for not following a RP, effective industries do a good job policing themselves, creating a strong air of “must do” vs. a weak-kneed “please consider.” And it often is the case that there is a strong financial incentive for compliance, whether it is obvious operational cost savings, threat of lawsuits, employ­ee/customer safety, compliance with actual laws/regulations, or to further the professionalism of that industry.

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Bottom line: “Recommended Practice” is a legitimate and effective tool – provided it is more than just a piece of paper. That means such RPs must be bold, logical and actionable.

Right now we have nothing but so-called “common sense” guiding those who choose to offer and sell used tires. There are some very responsible dealers offering used tires, but they are far from the majority. Manufacturers shudder just thinking about the potential liability attached to every used tire sold. And there are a lot of dealers who chose to avoid selling used tires altogether, also fearing that one catastro­phic failure.

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Would a better solution be a RP that provides an acceptable framework for safely and profitably selecting, inspecting, repairing, selling and servicing used tires? Yes.

Tire aging is vexing to many because too many want to make it more complicated than it should be. There is certainly a lot at stake, but we already know what is lurking in the shadows. We need a point of reference that can be easily explained to tire buyers and protects both dealers and makers. A good RP can do just that.

Groh and TIA say they plan to work with the RMA on developing these RPs, which would seem to meet some of the, shall we say, “unique needs” of tiremakers. Especially when it comes to the issue of when is a “new” tire “too old” to be sold. Especially as it pertains to selling often untrackable takeoffs.

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Despite the warm feelings being publicly expressed, the TIA-RMA relationship continues to run hot and cold – depending on the subject of the day. Like, say, tire repair legislation.

One wonders just how much harmony the two can generate, or just how engaged they want to be, or just how closely they really, really do want to work. That, for better or worse, is for them to sort out. But the fallout will fall on you.

We strongly urge TIA and RMA to quickly find solid, common ground to build workable and sustainable RPs that will have a meaningful effect to the good of this industry.

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But if they choose to continue down separate paths, then TIA must press ahead with its RP plan and get the right people, the right messages and the right budget to launch a strong first effort to reach the buying public. 

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