Power of Momentum
Challenges Lay Ahead, "But We Will Overcome Them," Says Disney
As a fan of college basketball, I am blessed to live in Louisville, within a short drive of universities that share over a dozen national championships. Over the years, I’ve been exposed to countless examples of talent, teaching and teamwork contributing to those achievements. In both games and sustained efforts over a season, one can witness power of momentum and the self-perpetuating enthusiasm it can generate.
Over the last six years working with TANA, I’ve been fortunate to share much the same experience. Among the membership and the staff there are a lot of talented, dedicated individuals working with inspired leadership on common goals.
While sometimes requiring difficult decisions and hard work, our shared commitment to rebuilding our association has led to victory. We’re financially sound, our trade show is thriving, we’re effectively representing our members interests’ in Washington, and we are modernizing and expanding our benefits, training and education programs. Clearly we have positive momentum.
TANA’s momentum is most evident in the International Tire Exposition. We will celebrate our 80th anniversary this year with a trade show that is healthy and filled with the energy of people doing business. Educational seminars, networking opportunities, product displays and a multitude of business opportunities will be available for all tire industry participants.
Demand for space by exhibitors continues to increase each year, and now exceeds the space available. The Las Vegas Convention Center is being expanded, and TANA will seek more exhibitor space for the 2002 ITE. And we are grateful to the many tire industry companies that stand ready to sponsor our convention activities.
Last year TANA introduced its Tire Technician Certification program, which provides dealers with a tool to improve safety, productivity and profitability in their operations. For dealers utilizing the program, certified tire technicians, wearing the TANA patch signifying certification, enjoy enhanced professionalism and project an image of confidence to prospects and customers alike.
The illustrated workbook, CD-ROM and certification tests are affordable for dealers of all sizes. TANA is developing point-of-purchase, store ID materials and inserts for ad slicks so dealers can promote their trained and certified staff. Marketing the importance of this program to tire dealers will be a priority for TANA this year.
We will also continue our efforts to place the program in vocational schools through our association with the Career College Association. This should expand the pool of available trained employees for all of our members.
TANA will also develop an expanded menu of training programs. Our Training Committee is actively reviewing tire dealer needs for technical training, as well as sales and management training. TANA will work with tire and equipment manufacturers, and other industry associations to develop these programs.
One TANA training module under consideration is a comprehensive review of tire repair techniques and failure analysis, concentrating on consumer tires and light commercial applications. This program would be tailored not only to service bay technicians, but also for sales counter and store management personnel.
Those of us who come into contact with the tire-buying public should be able to inspect, determine and explain why a tire failed to deliver its expected service life, and to demonstrate to the consumer their role in maximizing tire performance.
TANA is also considering a collaborative effort with SEMA to develop training materials for proper service of high performance tires and wheels in 17-inch diameters and larger. This is clearly the fastest growing segment of the consumer tire market and represents a significant profit opportunity for prepared dealers.
TANA will also work to develop training materials covering basic sales techniques and fundamental management skills common to successful tire business operations. To help dealers cope with one of today’s most difficult challenges, TANA is developing a tire industry-specific human resources manual in conjunction with SESCO, a long-time TANA benefit provider and respected employer services company.
TANA is very well equipped to protect the interests of tire dealers in various legislative issues. Our staff has worked vigorously on our behalf in Washington. In addition, we have an active Government Affairs Committee, comprised of members from across the country who can react quickly when needed, and give a voice to the concerns of the tire industry on a wide variety of issues.
TANA also established a PAC to further our outreach to legislators. In addition, thanks to the financial health of the Association, we can hire lobbying expertise on an as-needed basis.
Effective representation also requires that we coordinate our efforts with other industry associations. On many occasions, TANA and state or regional associations have worked together to thwart pending legislation that was unfavorable to the tire industry. On a national level, we’ve worked side-by-side with RMA, ITRA, SEMA and other groups.
Often, a grassroots effort is required at local, state or even national levels. For that reason, TANA has made available through its Web site a powerful tool that allows a member access to the contact data for virtually any of that member’s elected representatives. And the site allows for letters and e-mails to be sent directly to the legislator chosen. This provides empowerment at the most fundamental level, and I encourage our members to use this tool.
There will be much work this year with the development of regulations required by the TREAD Act.
NHTSA will also revise the Tire Safety Standard which may bring changes to the design, manufacture and testing of tires. Changes will also be mandated by NHTSA to the information required on tire sidewalls and for the labeling of tires. TANA stands ready to ensure that these and other potential regulations reflect the best interests of our members.
Advocacy and Public Education
Recent studies indicate that a large percentage of consumers remain unaware or indifferent to proper tire maintenance. During the intense media scrutiny of tire performance in the last 18 months, little, if any, attention was paid to the role consumers play in ensuring safe and effective service from their tires.
Consumer tires deliver more than two trillion miles of safe, effective service annually in the U.S., with the number of reported accidents resulting from tire failures numbering only in the thousands. There are no firm statistics on what percentage of those purported tire failures were due to a workmanship or materials issues, or what may be attributed to improper load and inflation, inappropriate application, vehicle conditions, road hazard and impact, and other user-related failings.
TANA can play a significant role in educating the public about the real value represented by the quality of tires today. We will continue to work with others, including the RMA’s ÒPlay it SmartÓ campaign, the Motorists Assurance Program’s standards and accreditation program, and NHTSA’s upcoming public education campaign.
Development and Retention
TANA’s leadership will strive to increase membership in our association. Strength of numbers is important to our legislative efforts. A larger membership improves our ability to deliver meaningful benefit programs. And, finally, increased membership means more skills and talents are available to the association, enhancing the development of future industry leaders and broadening the opportunity for true peer-to-peer exchange of ideas and experiences as embodied in TANA’s Dealer-to-Dealer networking program.
Mindful that word-of-mouth advertising can be the most effective, we are proceeding with TANA’s Ambassador program. This effort, led by Hall of Fame member Don Olsen, draws on the recruiting skills of over 140 TANA Ambassadors who make personal contact with prospective members and relate their own stories of just what membership in TANA has meant to them. Over 40 new members have signed on already!
TANA will continue its outreach to tire- and automotive-related industry associations. While each association may have a unique constituency and set of goals, we all co-exist within this industry and stand a better chance of achieving our missions by working together. TANA staff, volunteer leadership and other resources will be available to work with state and provincial associations in Canada and Mexico, as well as national groups like TIAE, ITRA, RMA, TRIB, PBTG, SEMA, MAP, CCA and others. We will strive to coordinate our efforts and offer complementary, not competitive, programs to represent and further the interests of our memberships.
As you can see, TANA’s agenda for tomorrow builds on the momentum of recent successes. The path is clearly laid out, but new challenges will surely arise for our industry. We can and will overcome each new obstacle.
Every day on my commute to work, I see a reminder of just why participation in a trade association is important to the success of our own tire business, as well as that of our customers, suppliers and even our competitors. Embroidered on the flag of Kentucky is our state motto: "United We Stand, Divided We Fall."
TANA will endeavor to provide unity for all who wish to prosper in the tire industry.