The U.S. market has been a tough nut to crack for foreign tire manufacturers. A recent Cleveland Plain Dealer article, summarizing the various consolidations in recent years between foreign and domestic tire makers, concluded the next few years in the industry will be tough ones.
Sunil Kumar, executive vice president of Bridgestone/Firestone Inc., said as much, noting, ``It'll take two more years before we'll be grinning molar to molar.''
Seen in a hotel parking lot at the recent American Retreaders' Association's World Tire Conference & Exhibition in Louisville, Ky.: A Jeep Cherokee bearing the Williams County, Ohio, vanity license plate ``RECAP.'' Anyone know the owner?
Hey, big spender
Overheard at the ARA show: While working the room at a hospitality suite sponsored by the Mohawk Tread Rubber Co., a magician asked if someone could loan him a buck to use in an illusion. A guy in the back of the room commented, ``A dollar? Doesn't he realize we're retreaders?''
Should have given him a rubber check.
Retread show rhapsody
Trade shows like the ARA's can be both fun and grueling affairs. But at least one exhibitor found a way to attract attention to his booth-and relax at the same time.
The beautiful sound of live music-not Muzak'-regularly wafted through the cavernous Louisville exhibition center, compliments of accomplished musician Josef Scharinger, general manager of Garanturbo GmbH, a buffing plate manufacturer based in Vienna, Austria. American Retread & Tire Supply Co. of Akron is its U.S. distributor.
Next to his booth, the maestro had a baby grand piano at which he played a repertoire of romantic and classical pieces by composers such as Chopin, Debussy, and a superb rendition of George Gershwin's ``Rhapsody in Blue.''
Music and business can blend well, Mr. Scharinger believes. ``I find the piano is a very pleasant balance to my business.'' About seven years ago he started playing the piano at trade shows in the U.S. as well as in Europe. Now, customers have grown to expect it. ``You will be coming with your piano, won't you?'' they ask.
Mr. Scharinger, who also records his music on compact disks, even keeps a piano in his office to help assuage the rigors of his job. But you won't catch him playing any ``modern'' music. ``I cannot stand it-it makes me nervous,'' he states.
One thing for sure: he wasn't playing the blues by show's end. It was, he said, a ``good show.'' So was his playing.
The chech's in the mail
Every year during its show the ARA gives a check to Harvey Brodsky, Tire Retread Information Bureau (TRIB) managing director, to cover the ARA's annual dues. While presenting this year's $30,000 installment, ARA President Mike Berra minced few words.
``For years, TRIB has been running on empty, financially,'' he remarked, while those who benefit the most-``the retreaders-pay the least.''
Then he promised: ``To those of you who do not support TRIB-in the next 30 days you'll be receiving a bill in the mail for your fair share. And you'd better pay it.''
We're not suggesting any correlation between this item and the previous one. But the company Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Banknotes offers checks with, shall we say, unusual backgrounds. Stuff like Edvard Munch's painting ``The Scream,'' or birds ready to peck away at a dead body. Now that's sending a real statement along with your bill.
The Akron Beacon Journal noted customers also can have checks printed with a message above the signature line. One person scrawled, ``And not a penny more!''