CLEVELAND-The controversial ``task force'' meeting to discuss consolidating the annual trade shows of the National Tire Dealers & Retreaders Association, the American Retreaders Association and other groups to create a single ``Tire Industry Week'' event was held as scheduled Nov. 7. But the Cleveland gathering took place without the presence of the ARA, which declined to attend because it had not participated in planning the meeting's agenda.
Also absent from the meeting were representative of the retreading industry's suppliers, many of whom sided with the ARA in criticizing the agenda as too heavily weighted in the NTDRA's favor.
Thus, with the ARA and retreading's suppliers not expected, Task Force Chairman James Faught canceled proposed activities for the second day of gathering, when these participants were scheduled to speak.
Mr. Faught, the NTDRA's immediate past president and the owner of Northwest Tire & Service in Flint, Mich., said he was disappointed at the ARA's absence from the meeting, to which he had invited the two dealer associations and representatives of other segments of the tire and automotive service industry.
On hand, however, were representatives of several major tire companies as well as the NTDRA Private Brand Group and those companies that exhibit tire and automotive service equipment at the industry's trade shows.
The meeting was closed to the news media. However, copies of Mr. Faught's opening remarks were made available by the NTDRA.
Speaking on behalf of the NTDRA, Mr. Faught said: ``We regret that, after many months of discussions, the American Retreaders Association has decided to boycott this meeting. We are not certain they understand that what we are proposing is not just a joint (NTDRA-ARA) show, but an industrywide show in which they can play a major role and still have a protection for the independence and financial well-being of their organization.''
The NTDRA, he said, ``has labored in good faith,'' trying to be the mechanism for bringing the industry together to facilitate a unified trade show.
``We regret that the level of discussions with the ARA in today's environment currently reflect years of distrust between the two organizations,'' he said.
``It is our intention today to try to proceed to see if we can pull together, in a format acceptable to all segments, a rubber/tire industry event.''
Mr. Faught said that if the task force decides to proceed in organizing such a trade show, the NTDRA's volunteer leadership will consult the association's executive committee regarding what steps can and should be taken to bring it about.
He said one of the mechanisms to consider is a market study to determine, among other things, if a unified trade show actually will attract thousands of attendees, as proponents hope.
Mr. Faught said he is sure the NTDRA would participate with other industry organizations in underwriting the cost of such a study and hiring a marketing research firm to conduct it on an expedited basis.
Meanwhile, ARA President William Babek, assuring that his association remains interested in an industrywide trade show, has proposed two private meetings between the elected officials of the ARA and NTDRA-without staff members present-before the next task force gathering is held.
The proposal, described in an ARA news release explaining the association's position on the matter, is similar to a suggestion made by the ARA prior to the Nov. 7 meeting in Cleveland. At that time, officials of both associations expressed a willingness to meet together informally, but time ran out before the parlay could take place.
Under Mr. Babek's current proposal, the first such meeting between the associations would take place Dec. 7 at the ARA's Louisville, Ky., headquarters. The second likely would be held at the NTDRA's Washington, D.C., headquarters-possibly in December or early January.
Asked whether he believed NTDRA officials would accept the ARA's invitation, Mr. Faught said the NTDRA's response likely will be decided by its executive committee.
Meanwhile, association officials say next year's NTDRA convention and trade show will be expanded in order to test the concept of a consolidated ``Industry Week'' event.
Among the innovations under consideration for the 1996 convention, according to an association news release, are individual brand and tire marketing group events for dealers, product seminars with demonstrations by trade show exhibitors, increased hospitality opportunities and scheduled meetings between individual dealers and retreaders and suppliers.
Both associations plan to survey trade show exhibitors and members concerning their preferences, expectations and degree of commitment to a consolidated trade show.
Executive Director Marvin Bozarth said the ARA's board of directors will review the results of its exhibitor survey at the board's Winter Meeting in Tucson, Ariz., Jan. 15.