After reading your front page articles about the National Tire Dealers & Retreaders Association and their problems, I couldn't help but think of my experiences over the past 39 years. When I started with Super Mold in late 1957, the NTDRA was a real part of the industry and carried a great deal of respect.
Suppliers, tire dealers and retreaders all felt it was a helpful organization and that the benefits of membership were extremely worthwhile. At least that was the overall perception.
I talk to a great many retreaders, tire dealers and suppliers from all over the country and the opinion I most often hear is that the NTDRA is for the big guys.
What I hear is an opinion that the leadership promoted their own agenda at the expense of the small dealers.
In other words, it seemed to most of my contacts that the NTDRA management was mostly concerned with their importance and their ability to have the ear of the major tire manufacturers rather than with the needs of the small dealer and the small supplier.
The several times I tried to bring issues of concern to the table were met with a ho-hum attitude and many other small suppliers and small retreaders expressed the same frustrations.
I just finished up a several-year term as a director of the Western States Tire & Automotive Service Association and it was-and continues to be-a major problem to get the grass roots tire dealers to participate.
During my tenure, the suppliers carried most of the burden. But that is getting old and I think the reaction of the suppliers to the just completed show in Atlanta confirms that reaction.
The new management of the NTDRA has the opportunity to change the status quo. They have the opportunity to bring back the small dealers and small suppliers who feel that they have been left out of the process.
The association should be a place where the tire dealer can find friends, where he can talk to dealers who have the same problems and concerns, and he should be able to participate at a reasonable cost. Unless that type of an atmosphere is created and nurtured you will continue to see a downward spiral.
Having the trade show as a part of SEMA (Automotive Aftermarket Industry Week) is just another step down the ladder toward endangered species status.
Could it be that a major national trade show is not necessary, in view of the communications explosion going on today? Maybe small regional meetings and seminars held in conjunction with the state associations would recapture the minds and hearts of the tire dealers and retreaders.
It would be nice to see a strong association that catered to the needs of the membership rather than the other way around.
Fair Oaks, Calif.
I am writing to express my deep concern about the attendance at the NTDRA national convention and trade show just completed in Atlanta. It is my observation that interest, as reflected by attendance, is on a steady decline.
Without actual registration statistics for comparison: Dallas was poor, New Orleans was bad and Atlanta was terrible. I heard comments from long-time members that this was the smallest and most poorly attended show in their memory.
I am told there has been conversation about some sort of concurrent scheduling so that the NTDRA trade show and that of SEMA (Automotive Industry Week) might be held during the same week in the same city. Let me add our encouragement to any efforts in this regard.
The distinction between tire dealers and the automotive aftermarket is becoming ever more seamless. Undercar and aftermarket services have become a necessary way of life for most tire dealers. Regardless of the ultimate solution, something must be done. The tire industry absolutely is deserving of its own great trade show.
Keith Jones, Laramie Tire Co.
Metropolitan Atlanta Tire Dealers Assn.
Editor's Note: The 1997 NTDRA show and AAIW shows are scheduled to occur in Las Vegas about three weeks apart. The NTDRA is looking at moving the dates of its 1997 convention, now set for Oct. 23-25, to coincide with the AAIW shows.
I would like to see more information on used tires-buyers, exporters, importers, etc.-as well as on scrap tires.
The Tire Man