AKRON-National Tire Dealers & Retreaders Association President James Faught is discovering that organizing the industry's first all-inclusive convention and trade show will not be easy. Mr. Faught has suggested the NTDRA combine its annual trade show with that of the American Retreaders Association and other groups to create the first ``Rubber/Tire Industry Week.''
As proposed, the week-long affair also would include the various membership meetings and technical sessions that are part of the separately held annual gatherings of these dealer associations.
The theory is that combining these and other industry gatherings into one ``mega show'' will boost attendance while saving suppliers the cost of exhibiting at two or more separate national dealer gatherings each year.
A combined NTDRA/ARA trade show is something show exhibitors have been requesting for some time. Meanwhile, they point out, a third national trade show has entered the picture. The Automotive Aftermarket Industry Week, slated for Oct. 21-27 in Las Vegas, recently has attracted increasing numbers of exhibitors and tire dealers-some of whom aren't seen at the tire industry shows.
Exhibitors at the NTDRA and ARA events are concerned about the competitive threat posed by the giant Las Vegas automotive show. Therefore, they are pushing the two dealer associations to move faster to create the tire industry's own ``super show.''
Nevertheless, Mr. Faught's effort to bring together the two rival dealer associations, trade show exhibitors and other industry factions to talk about the idea is encountering some sharp criticism and political complexities.
On Sept. 29, he mailed invitations to ARA officials and individuals representing other groups and industry interests to meet as a task force to discuss the feasibility of such an event. The meeting is slated for Nov. 7-8 at Cleveland's Sheraton Hopkins Hotel.
But if the Flint, Mich., dealer, whose term as the NTDRA's president expires Oct. 14, had expected clear sailing for this proposal-he was wrong.
Now Mr. Faught finds himself under pressure from trade show exhibitors who feel the associations aren't moving fast enough in organizing a combined trade show.
Last month, an ad hoc committee, formed by representatives of the NTDRA's supplier and private brand groups as well as the Tread Rubber and Tire Repair Materials Manufacturers Group (TRMG), sent a letter to the associations, expressing exhibitors' concerns and calling for a combined trade show beginning in 1997.
Promising to help make the event a success, exhibitors said the committee's objective should be to establish it as the world's No. 1 tire trade show, with emphasis on domestic and international suppliers and customers.
The group also has scheduled a press conference for Oct. 12, during the NTDRA's New Orleans convention, to further explain the exhibitors' position.
Meanwhile, Mr. Faught, who plans to proceed with the November meetings as scheduled, is finding the job of organizing the industry task force complicated by objections from some who are concerned they'll be under-represented in the discussions.
As this issue went to press Oct. 10, it was uncertain whether ARA representatives would be on hand for the gathering.
While ARA officials weren't saying so publicly, the Louisville, Ky.-based association was unhappy its representatives-unlike those of the NTDRA-weren't listed as scheduled participants for both days of the gathering.
ARA President William Babek, of Babek Commercial Tire Systems in Avenel, N.J., would say only that the ARA was ``not comfortable with the format and agenda'' and was in the process of discussing possible changes with the NTDRA.
``We're very much interested in pursuing these conversations and attending,'' Mr. Babek said. ``But, right now, there are some things that need to be worked out.''
Reached by telephone in New Orleans Oct. 9, Mr. Faught said he had not yet heard from anyone at the ARA, but that if the ARA wants to be on the program both days, that can be worked out.
According to an NTDRA news release, the agenda calls for two similar days of discussions: the first among representatives of the new-tire and automotive service segments of the industry; the second involving the retreading, repairing and scrap tire recycling segments.
While at least three representatives of the NTDRA are scheduled to address the gathering on each day, Mr. Babek is the only elected ARA official listed on the agenda-and only on the second day.
Others in the retreading and tire repair sectors expressed similar objections to the format and agenda as originally announced.
Placing discussions by new-tire and retreading industry participants on separate days drew an angry response from Raymond E. ``Gus'' Hawkinson Jr., president and CEO of the Hawkinson Companies and an ARA director.
``If the stated description (of the meeting's purpose) is for `a convention, trade show and meeting site for all parties,' why am I not invited both days?'' and ``Why is the ARA excluded from the first day?'' Mr. Hawkinson asked in a letter to Mr. Faught.
``It was totally innocent,'' Mr. Faught replied when asked about Mr. Hawkinson's reactions. ``(The agenda) is not biased. We're not there to dictate. We're trying to get something out on the table so things can get moving.''
``If ARA wants to send somebody on the first day, we will welcome them,'' Mr. Faught added. But the agenda can't be changed to accommodate everyone, he said, ``or we won't get this thing off the ground.''