Any time you celebrate a milestone, such as a 75th anniversary, it's an exciting event. But what really makes these occasions special is the history that brought us to where we are today.
Such is the case with the National Tire Dealers & Retreaders Association, which is commemorating its 75th year this fall.
If you're like most tire dealers, you've probably given little thought to the association's diamond anniversary. You've got enough on your mind running your own dealership or retread operation.
I'm sure, though, you've seen the publicity about the special convention and trade show planned for October in New Orleans. And I hope you're giving serious thought to attending.
But there's more to this milestone than a big celebration, especially for dealers. That's because the history of the NTDRA is really a history of the independent tire dealer.
The association's story began in 1921, when a few local tire dealer organizations recognized the need for a national body to tackle problems that were simply too big for the smaller groups to handle.
It continues 75 years later with the independent still controlling more than 50 percent of the U.S. retail tire market and the association battling to give dealers the tools, support and protection needed to help them stay on top.
The first national tire dealer convention took place in Chicago on Jan. 31, 1921, with about 500 retail tire merchants and vulcanizers in attendance.
One of the first tasks of the new association was to increase the professionalism of dealers. Dealers also passed a resolution recommending members mutilate junk tires to prevent their sale to the motoring public by less-scrupulous outlets. And they railed against the practice of direct selling by tire makers-a subject, not surprisingly, that still rankles dealers today.
In the intervening years, the NTDRA has championed such causes as truth in advertising, minimum tire safety standards, voluntary tire registration and a series of battles relating to the federal excise tax on tread rubber.
Such stories provide a fascinating look at tire dealer history over the past 75 years. But beyond that, they give today's dealers an understanding of the role the NTDRA played in keeping them a powerful force in the marketplace.
This is no small feat, when you consider the impact mass merchandisers and chain stores have had on other types of independent businesses-the small independent grocer, for example.
Through it all, the independent tire dealer has remained No. 1 as the consumer's choice for tire sales and service.
With this issue, TIRE BUSINESS tips its hat to the NTDRA for the role it has played in the success dealers have had for the past three quarters of a century.