I have followed with some interest your articles on tire plug repairs and am appalled by the information your research has revealed. Are we the only tire company that has refused to perform plug repairs for over 20 years? I entered my family's tire business in 1971 at age 11 sweeping the warehouse. I started working in the shop as soon as I could, since it was boring in the warehouse by myself. My father would run me back to the warehouse whenever he saw me in the shop.
When I was 16, I began working full time in the shop during summers and after school. I can't remember us ever repairing a tire without first removing it from the wheel, inspecting it and using a patch repair on the inside.
We have and do use plugs and A/B compound material to seal the tire from the outside. None of the plugs we used were designed to be used without an inside patch.
We have been asked many times by customers to just plug the tire. Our answer has been to explain why this is not safe.
Yes, some customers insist on a plug repair. We explain we do not even have the materials on hand to perform this type of repair. Yes, we have had potential customers get mad, yell at us, accuse us of trying to rip them off, etc. This is life in retail.
Larry Jaffe of Jaffe Tire Co. was correct in your Oct. 28 special issue on tire repair when he said the customer who insists on this type of repair is one you cannot afford. It's also our feeling on this type of customer. If such customers don't want to pay to have the job done properly, they will blame you for everything that may go wrong on their car, after you worked on it.
I started educating myself about tire repair using technical manuals published by Michelin, our primary brand, in the late 1970s and '80s. I also attended many tire manufacturer- and Bandag-sponsored training classes. Both the manuals and the training classes pointed out the dangers associated with repairing tires without demounting and inspecting them.
I continue to wonder why so many dealers are unaware of this problem or the recommended procedures. The Rubber Manufacturers Association has, to my recollection, always recommended removing the tire for repair and using a patch on the inside.
I believe the companies marketing plug repairs should discontinue this business. I am sure this will open me up to large amounts of criticism, but I stand on my opinions.
Tire dealers are exposed to risks everywhere as North Shore Laboratories Corp.'s Douglas Dunsmore pointed out in your special tire repair issue. We must work to reduce these exposures in every area.
There are numerous tire repair training classes available to tire dealers today. Our Mid America Tire Dealers Association, formerly the Kansas Tire Dealers Association, has hosted one almost every year, and will again this year at our annual convention.
The tire repair material suppliers are very willing to work with us on these classes. Our biggest problem: the dealer principal who says he can't afford the nominal cost of the seminar, can't afford to have the employee away from the store or can't afford to pay the employees' wages while they attend.
Just one claim will more than outweigh years of training costs. We cannot afford to ignore this training or not to stand up and refuse to perform unsafe practices in any area of our service.
Finally, I am surprised TIRE BUSINESS failed to point out in its Oct. 28 issue the many articles on this subject written by columnist Clarence Ball over the years. I have enjoyed his articles and found them very informative.
Robert M. Pickrell Jr.
Royal Tire Co.
The Cook family would like to thank all the wonderful people in the tire and automotive service industry for their cards and letters of prayer and encouragement for my husband Greg's bone marrow transplant.
Your donations have been of great help.
A special thanks to the National Tire Dealers & Retreaders Association's immediate past president, Paul Bobzin (La Canada Tire Center Inc., La Canada, Calif.) and Mrs. Bobzin as well as to C.D. ``Tony'' Hylton III, the group's director of communications services, and to TIRE BUSINESS.
Prescott Valley, Ariz.
Editor's note: Mr. Bobzin's call for industry support of Gregory Cook appeared in the Aug. 19 issue. Others wishing to donate should send checks, payable to Carol Cook F.B.O. Gregory Cook (Acct. No. 238121507), c/o Covey Tire, 6250 E. Highway 69, Prescott Valley, AZ 86314.