Having worked in the tire business for the majority of my career, I have seen firsthand what truly makes this industry function: the people-to-people interactions and relationships. Helping tire dealers promote their businesses by maintaining personal relationships with their customers has been the best part of my career. Unlike other aspects of the auto industry, working with tires requires a truly hands-on, individual approach. Working with tire dealers and other customers firsthand is what has made my time in the tire industry so satisfying.
As TIA’s incoming president, I want to take this personal approach and apply it to the tire industry as a whole. I understand that for independent dealers, it can sometimes feel like the industry is not always advocating for your interests. I recognize that when you are taking care of your customers, it is not just about moving product to some obscure individual, but about finding the right tire to fit your neighbor’s or friend’s needs. You are not just a business, but an integral part of your community. Similarly, I want TIA to fit your needs. This is your association, and we are here to help you.
I have a lot of gratitude for Larry Brandt, Mike Berra, and all of the other past-presidents, and for current and past board members of this association, for they have set this association on a positive path. During my time on TIA’s board, I was able to see just how hard they worked to better the tire business. Their hard work and encouragement is what prompted me to want to do more for both this organization and for the industry.
For my term as TIA president, I want to continue to work on promoting the growth of this industry and to build upon the excellent foundation that has already been established. During this upcoming year, I intend to focus on two major aspects of this organization: training and legislative advocacy.
Over the last few years, the tire industry has faced many trials in the realm of legislative and regulatory proposals. The work that TIA does in government affairs needs everyone’s support and attention. So many pieces of legislation can have a detrimental impact on business if gone unmanaged or unchallenged.
It is essential the entire industry watch for what kind of legislation is coming down the pipeline, and to rally people together to either support or reject such regulation and proposals when the time comes. As president, I intend to continue to monitor and promote these efforts, and see to it that the tire industry maintains a strong governmental presence.
In just the past year, the industry has been challenged by a number of key pieces of legislation. In March, TIA’s longstanding legislative guardian and executive vice president Roy Littlefield and his team worked tirelessly, alongside a coalition of local automotive associations, to fight a tire aging bill in Maryland. Together, they were successful in killing the bill, but that fight is far from over.
Just months later, the tire industry was faced with more potentially harmful legislation a proposed tire repair bill in New York. By acting and submitting amendments that would promote only the safest methods of tire repair, we were once again successful in protecting the interests of our membership.
In addition to our efforts with tire bills, TIA also is lobbying on proposed laws and regulations that have direct impact upon small businesses. In July, TIA joined 31 other organizations in supporting “Death Tax Repeal Permanency Act” (H.R. 1259), a piece of legislation that would see to the end of the extremely detrimental death tax that has inhibited small businesses for decades.
During this upcoming year, I hope to see the introduction of new legislation that can benefit the tire industry. Recently, I had the pleasure of seeing Massachusetts’ “Right to Repair” bill pass through its state’s legislature and come to fruition. This bill allows for a more level playing field between independent automotive aftermarket repair businesses and ensures they have access to the correct information on the repairs they are performing.
TIA fully supported this bill, and I intend to continue to provide vigorous advocacy to the tire industry over this upcoming year so that bills like this can continue to go into effect.
Training and Education
The importance of the training that TIA develops and delivers to the industry cannot be stressed enough. Tires are highly engineered products that demand and require proper care during both mounting and use. Every tire dealer should have their entire staff of technicians trained to ensure that their customers are getting the safest possible service.
Kevin Rohlwing, TIA’s senior vice president of training, has implemented new strategies to continue to keep our members informed, safe and efficient. Under his guidance, we have seen great successes with our national training tour, which continually has seen more dates and locations added as it grows in popularity. With the expansion of the training tour, we can now reach out to more dealers and more locations, ensuring that all technicians and dealers receive proper training and education to better their businesses.
This year also has seen the introduction of new online education services. The TIA Online University introduced our 200-Level Basic and 250-Level Advanced Training Programs, so that even those technicians who cannot make it to one of our many tour stops can still receive the training they need. The TIA Online University has been wildly successful, and as president I want to grow and expand this training option so that we can continue to reach a larger audience more effectively than ever before.
To continue on the path of inclusion, this year also saw the addition of the Spanish version of our popular Commercial Tire Service (CTS) program to our list of educational options. With the help of many tire manufacturers, we were able to help meet the needs of the tire industry and do so more quickly than ever before.
This year’s TIA Foundation fundraising efforts saw considerable contributions from major tiremakers, including Bridgestone, Cooper, Goodyear, Kumho, Michelin, Yokohama and Marangoni. With their help, TIA has been able to develop the best educational programs for thousands of tire technicians.
The 2012 Global Tire Expo
The last few years have seen an exponential growth for our Global Tire Expo Powered by TIA with the SEMA Show, and I want to ensure that this year’s GTE is better than ever.
We are hosting multiple pre-GTE events on Monday, Oct. 29, that will not only provide excellent networking opportunities for TIA members, but also will allow us to recognize those who have made considerable contributions to our industry. We will be honoring four Tire Industry Hall of Fame inductees this year and two other people will receive first Ed Wagner Industry Leadership Awards acknowledgement and appreciation for those who have worked so tirelessly to improve this industry.
I cannot say enough how the GTE is an excellent resource for virtually every tire dealership in North America. The GTE trade show floor promises to have more options than ever before. A record-breaking number of new exhibitors have registered alongside all of our excellent, previous exhibitors. There really is no place quite like GTE to find the best and newest products available on the market.
The educational seminars for this year’s GTE also hold great promise for attendees. This year will feature an authentic “town hall” style meet-up that will see leaders in the TPMS business discuss how TPMS can be a profit-builder for dealers. This seminar, coupled with the return of old favorites like “Successful Dealers Share their Secrets,” will make this year’s list of programs hard to miss.
I’m proud to have worked in the automotive industry for so long, and I’m excited to be serving the tire industry in this new fashion. TIA has excellent staff and board members, and together we want to continue to help tire dealers in any way that we can not only in continuing the excellent programs that we already have in place, but also in helping expand our association with new and innovative approaches.
Some of these are with our benefit partners, including Hot Rod Processing for credit card processing and Select Benefit Communications Group for health insurance. Both will be at TIA’s booth (South Hall 40057) during our Global Tire Expo at the SEMA show.
As a tire dealer, it is very important to be a part of this conversation. If you are a TIA member, thank you very much for your support. If you are a future member, please contact us (800-876-8372 or email [email protected].) to see how your small membership fee provides a great return on that investment.
It’s very heartening to hear dealers talk about how one or more of our programs have helped them to be successful, or how they see TIA helping their children, who are now getting into the business. Together, we can continue to tackle the evolving requirements of an ever-advancing industry, and build stronger tire dealerships for the future!