The Power of Dealers - Tire Review Magazine

The Power of Dealers

Joan Floyd putters around the house these days, doing a little of this and some of that. Her family is all gone now. She didn’t even get a chance to say goodbye. There aren’t any phone calls to make or envelopes to stamp or events to plan.

In between the this-and-that, she hopes to find a job to help pay the bills and get medical insurance. Joan recently lost her job when her employer – more aptly, her “family” – had to shut down. Thanks to a lawsuit.

The hard-to-accept lawsuit was the last nail in the coffin, actually. You see, the Northeast Ohio Regional Tire Dealers Association (NORTDA), like many other regional dealer groups in recent years, was already suffering from member malaise.

Too few members meant extra-thin coffers. With the lawsuit – filed last December, a full two years after the incident in question – came a jump in insurance costs, an increase the valiant NORTDA – all 29 dealer and 14 supplier members – just couldn’t bear. The group had no choice but to disband.

Irony of ironies: The lawsuit was filed by the wife of a tire dealer. An invited guest to NORTDA’s 2001 Christmas party, she volunteered to be hypnotized by the evening’s entertainer. Allegedly, it didn’t go well, so she sued the hypnotist for medical expenses and damages – $25,000. NORTDA was dragged into it because of the contract it signed with the hypnotist.

More irony? Her husband is a past president of the Ohio Tire Dealers and Retreaders Association (OTDRA) and a member of its board. Bill Floyd is also an OTDRA board member.

Fortunately, the suit was settled Oct. 6. NORTDA was nicked for $1,000, the hypnotist for a measly $500. Not as bad as it could have been, but it came too late to save the association.

So, after more than a decade of devoted service as NORTDA’s executive secretary and 37 years working with dealer groups in Ohio, Joan is at a loss.

“It’s upsetting because I love all those guys. I’ve worked with them for years, and we didn’t get a chance to say goodbye,” Joan said. The legal situation prevented the group from even one last farewell toast.

Joan is half of a unique husband-wife team. Husband, Bill, spent all his working life in the tire biz, first with Seiberling and later with Polson. He saw one get decimated and sold and the other simply go under. It was while he was selling tread rubber for Polson that Bill got involved in association work.

He was there in the 1950s when a group of Akron area dealers started meeting informally. He was there in 1967 to help those dealers incorporate as the Greater Akron Tire Dealers Association. He was there when GATDA and the Cleveland Tire Dealers Association created the OTDRA, and he served as its executive director for years.

And Joan, the ex-officio secretary, was there for every late-night meeting and weekend event. While Bill was out peddling tread stock, Joan watched over the OTDRA like a mother hen. She was Bill’s eyes and ears and arms and legs, and grew to love “the guys” as much as her husband.

When Joan was asked to be executive secretary of NORTDA, Bill, who retired from association work in 1997, happily switched places and became the supportive, behind-the-scenes spouse.

“I’m really sad for her,” Bill, a spry 80 years young, told me. “She put her heart and soul into the group.”

Sad, too, is the state of our regional and state associations. NORTDA covered more than a quarter of the state, and dozens of dealers and their employees were eligible for membership. Few chose to join.

“Young people don’t want to come,” explained Joan. “They work and their wives work. They have Little League games to go to and school events. They just don’t have time.”

Things were different 40 years ago, but the issues facing independent dealers haven’t changed. Four decades ago, dealers flocked to be active members, to learn from each other, to know they weren’t alone out there. At the end, NORTDA couldn’t get enough for a good card game.

No dealer ever went out of business because he joined an association. But plenty have because they ignored the assistance, support and programs state and regional associations provide.

And those programs and services exist because of the hard work of people like Joan and Bill Floyd.

Joan and Bill never got rich from the rubber biz and certainly didn’t see association work as the pathway to fortune. They did it because they believed in the power of dealers. They still do.

Joan and Bill will make it. Somehow. Will you?

You May Also Like

Forging a Path Forward

The skills we learned from being distanced because of the pandemic will stay with us, but think of it this way: As the world opens up, what opportunities will it offer you?

Forging a Path Ahead

In the last two months, I’ve been privileged to spend quality time with those of you who make this industry tick. Whether it has been talking about industry best practices with our Top Shop Winners and Finalists in Nashville or mingling amid the backdrop of the Colorado Rockies with dealers, distributors and Falken Tire leadership at Falken’s Dealer Meeting, I’ve learned a few things. 

How the State of Our Industry Impacts Your Day to Day

In August, Tire Review is publishing special “State of the Industry” articles comprised of the thought-leadership editorial that takes a look at various trends shaping the global tire industry through the eyes of subject matter experts and industry influencers.

State of the Industry service advisor customer
Data-Driven Business Intelligence Boosts Profitability

Centered on a business-building theme, Tire Review’s new data section, Rolling with the Numbers, will provide business intelligence in key shop operations areas to help boost tire dealer profitability.

Vehicle Subscription Models Put a Twist on Consumer Choice

With a new vehicle representing consumers’ second-largest purchase, their expectation of inherent value, especially on big ticket items, raises the question of whether this move by automakers will be seen as a means to over-deliver on customer expectations, or a way to fuel their revenue pipelines to offset slumping vehicle sales numbers.

Idled Driving Shouldn’t Mean Stalled Vehicle Service

There is plenty of unperformed maintenance out there for the taking – the result of undetected or neglected automotive care.


Other Posts

Waves of Change: Tire Review Makes Staff Changes

Tire Review is accelerating its efforts to keep you engaged, enthusiastic and curious about the growth your business can achieve.

TR Staff 1400
2021 Top Shop Competition Standouts Are the ‘Best of the Best’

These Top Shops lead by example, relentlessly focus on elevating their customers’ service experience, outshine their competitors, stand out in their community and commit to excellence, says Tire Review Editor Mary DellaValle.

Tire Review Top Shop Event
Customer Service Scripts vs. a Sales Process

When you manage and control the conversation, you have your best shot at controlling a favorable outcome.

The Value of Your Tire Business is at an All-Time High

National retailers and independent players alike are competing for market share and potential acquisition targets.

tire business value high - stout