If ever there were a ``hot-button'' topic among independent tire dealers and retreaders, the current debate about whether or not there should be a combined rubber industry trade show and convention is it. Over the past several months, discussions have ensued among representatives from the American Retreaders Association, the National Tire Dealers & Retreaders Association and various suppliers over a mega-show along the lines of the huge Automotive Aftermarket Industry Week (AAIW) shows held annually in Las Vegas.
Well, the verdict is in-at least as far as those dealers and retreaders surveyed by TIRE BUSINESS are concerned. They overwhelmingly favor a combined trade show. Some were quite candid in calling recent conventions ``failures.''
The retreaders surveyed weren't very satisfied with current industry trade shows.
Many belong to both the NTDRA and the ARA, but only a few attended either convention last year. And of those, most are choosing to visit the ARA show this spring, in lieu of the NTDRA event in the fall.
A whopping 90 percent of retreaders surveyed supported a single combined tire industry trade show.
Many shared the same complaint: It takes too much time away from their business to attend two trade shows a year.
James Ohnstad of OK Tire Store Inc. in Fargo, N.D., attended the AAIW shows last year but said he supports a combined industry show. ``Too much is spent on travel time/monies to go to more than one (show). Manufacturers split between conventions so you don't see all (of them) anyway.''
``Both contain the same products,'' added Abe Howar of Liberty Tire & Rubber in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. ``They are talking about the same thing-same seminars, same workshops.''
Almost mirroring those results, 91 percent of the independent dealers surveyed favored a combined show-and for most of the same reasons.
Micky Franklin, owner/operator of Micky Franklins Wholesale Tire Inc., North Fort Myers, Fla., belongs to and is very happy with his state tire dealer association. He said the ``NTDRA isn't that great of a convention on its own. It's like the state (convention) only bigger. But to add some `new twists' would increase involvement and attendance.''
A Vermont tire dealer and NTDRA member said the ``association is slowly going under-it needs to join with other groups for new blood.'' And a Chicago dealer implored: ``Combine (the NTDRA and ARA shows) now!!''
A Trenton, N.J., dealer said he was disgusted with last year's NTDRA show because the ``costs were prohibitive,'' especially the room and bed tax in New Orleans.
``ARA-good! NTDRA-bad!'' wrote a Kansas dealer who pointed out that ``travel and lodging expenses are getting prohibitive compared to the quality of the trade shows!''
Robert C. Murrey of Hopkinsville Recapping Co., Hopkinsville, Ky., wants a joint trade show and suggested it be extended by one day to give attendees ``time to consider all phases.''
NTDRA member Kent McElroy of McElroy Tire Inc. in Tulsa, Okla., said the education aspect of the association's trade show ``is great-very informative. The trade show itself is no good. Not enough tire manufacturers there to call it the NTDRA.''
He admitted he goes to the shows ``to see what's new and if it would benefit our business,'' adding, ``You're never too old to learn something new-I'm 35 years old.''
The NTDRA and ARA shows need to combine ``because of the cost to travel to the shows,'' said Ronald S. Bennett of Service Tire Truck Center, Bethlehem, Pa., and they also must concentrate more on a dealer's ``bottom line.''
Don Hasvold of Tire Wholesale in Cheyenne, Wyo., put it simply in explaining why he plans to attend the AAIW shows in Las Vegas: ``(The NTDRA convention) is not what it used to be.''
Perhaps Richard E. Johnson of Dick Johnson's Tire Centers, Northboro, Mass., took the most extreme approach: He cancelled his memberships to industry trade associations, labeling them all ``a waste of time.''