Continued from page 8. TRIB tire survey
The article (``The truck stops here. . .'') about highway tire debris in your Aug. 7 issue was fascinating-more for what it said about the Tire Retread Information Bureau and the trucking company executives, owner-operators and drivers surveyed by TRIB than what it said about retread manufacturers on the whole.
Blaming retreads for rubber on the road based on the misinformed opinion of nine people taking part in a laughably slanted survey is no more valid than the inverse assertion that 72 percent of those surveyed faulted factors other than retreads for rubber on the road.
You see, the very end-users railing about the need for retread standards and regulations are the same end-users keeping those retreaders-who should not be in any business-prosperous enough to survive in ours.
What they have not figured out is that the industry standards and regulations they feel would save them from their own shortsightedness are already in place and adhered to by the majority of retread manufacturers.
They have not figured out that their financial struggles (and they are almost always struggling) are caused by their price-driven buying decisions, not solved by them.
They have not figured out that those retreaders who presently operate outside the industry- accepted standards certainly are going to operate outside of government-dictated standards as well.
The question is: Why haven't they figured these things out?
Reading some of TRIB Managing Director Harvey Brodsky's comments in the same article answers this question in part.
Mr. Brodsky ponders, ``How can you address the guy's problems if you don't know what ticks the guy off?''
I might suggest that the ``guy's problem,'' based on the responses cited in the article, is a fundamental lack of knowledge about tires, their construction and proper maintenance.
Unfortunately, he is not going to receive this education from his present supplier, because that retreader is part of the reason for Mr. Brodsky's other interesting quote: ``There is garbage in any industry.''
Please do not misunderstand. Mr. Brodsky is a knowledgeable, decent, hard-working man and totally dedicated to the retread industry.
Occasionally, all of us, when up to our elbows in alligators, forget we're supposed to drain the swamp. But it is exactly that benign acceptance of mediocrity implicit in his statement that allows the ``garbage'' to exist.
Ultimately, we do a greater service to customers and our industry when we tell end-users they're mistaken and educate them.
We perform a far greater service for customers and our industry when we confront mis-conceptions with the truth-and if that means pointing a finger at that ``garbage'' man, so be it.
The heart of this issue, which is image, affects not just retreaders but all of the commercial tire industry. We have all seen the tire service truck that doubles as the lawn care truck. The driver slides the mower out of the way to fire up that good ol' gasoline-fueled compressor and-presto!-he's a tire technician.
He's the guy whose road service rate you must match, even though he has no tools, no knowledge, no tire cage, no workman's compensation and no overhead. His liability insurance consists of a name and address change.
We have all seen his partner, too: ``the commercial salesman.'' He also has a pickup truck (no mower) and drives around your market area, matching or beating your price on any tire.
Of course, he not only has no overhead, he also doesn't handle warranty problems. You, the authorized dealer, are expected to do that for him. And those complaining loudest in the survey keep these fellows in business.
As well-intended as our trade associations may be, the sad fact is, we have done a woefully inadequate job of educating our consumers and an even worse job of policing our industry.
In more than 27 years in this industry, I have been fortunate to be involved with organizations that regard quality as the first prerequisite for success.
That was never more true for me than it is today. I can assure you that I would be called to account more quickly for misrepresenting a product, overselling a customer, having an unsafe work place or behaving in an otherwise unprofessional manner, than I ever would for low gross on a sale.
Quality is practiced as a concept that includes how telephones are answered, how sales calls are made, the condition and cleanliness of vehicles, the knowledge and training of employees, and the appearance and accuracy of invoices.
We are comfortable in this, we are successful in this-and we are not alone in this.
We are part of the majority of commercial tire dealers and retreaders in this country, and our customers would have answered TRIB's survey questions differently.
Service Tire Truck Centers