SPARKS, Nev.-Although it has increased its geographic boundaries exponentially, the newly named Western States Tire & Automotive Service Association shouldn't create any panic among other state associations. One goal of the expanded Western States group-formerly the California Tire Dealers & Retreaders Association-North-is indeed to increase membership. But its executive director, Stephanie McCoubrey, expressed assurance there will not be any ``head-to-head combat'' to snare other groups' members.
``It's not our intention to go out and get members from other state associations we then can't serve, . . . but we won't turn anyone away. No other association should feel threatened by us,'' she said following the conclusion of the group's convention and trade show, held May 18-20 in the Reno, Nev., suburb of Sparks. ``Our intent is to better serve the members we already have.''
Currently, the association has between 375 and 400 members, and President-Elect David Redfern, owner of Redwood General Tire Service Inc., Redwood City, Calif., anticipates adding upwards of 150 new members.
``We want to reach out to a more varied membership, including the automotive service industry-even some auto service people who don't sell any tires,'' Mr. Redfern told TIRE BUSINESS during the convention. ``There are things we can report to them that affect the way they do business. Membership can be of value to them.''
An increasing number of the Western States association's members are in the auto service business, he said, ``and if they're not, they're not really going to be in the tire business for very long. (Auto service) is where the profit potential is.''
Mr. Redfern, who will assume his two-year term as president in November, said tire dealers ``have to attract people to their stores with the auto service we offer, build a rapport with them, keep them as repeat customers and get them recommending our businesses to their friends.
``Our association will reach out to that segment of the business,'' he said, as well as geographically to dealers in other states which either ``don't have a strong association,'' or any organization.
In recent months, California's two independent dealer associations have gone their separate ways, with the Western States group splitting over what Ms. McCoubrey described as ``strictly a business decision by our board of directors. We have a different business philosophy'' than the Southern California association.
That group recently changed its name to ``Southern California Tire Dealers, Retreaders & Automotive Services Association.''
Both associations will now have separate trade shows. Each has hired its own lobbyists.
While not necessarily a ``painful'' split, Mr. Redfern admitted ``there has been some acrimony between the north and south. It was more of a business decision-we felt we were going in a different direction than they were.''
Keeping in touch with new members from nearby states may prove to be a ``communication problem,'' but he doesn't expect to add any association field offices at this point. The ``old-fashioned'' methods of keeping in touch-mail and fax machines-will have to do for now.
Both Ms. McCoubrey and Mr. Redfern said they were ``encouraged'' by the association's recent trade show, which drew 58 exhibitors and was attended by more than 800 people.
The show was ``heavily marketed'' to 13 states, Ms. McCoubrey said, including Alaska and Hawaii. It drew participants from throughout California as well as Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, Oregon, Idaho, Washington, Montana, Texas, and South Carolina.
``The nice thing about working with this association,'' she explained, ``is that it puts the profit and survival of the tire dealer as its No. 1 focus.
``I'm just really committed to keeping the independent retail tire dealer in business and successful. And with the change of our name, the whole philosophy of our board is to do that.''
The next big trade show for the Western States Tire & Automotive Service Association will be in 1997 in either Reno or Las Vegas. In April 1996, the group will hold a convention in Concord, Calif.