LOUISVILLE, Ky.—Last year, just in time for its annual gathering, the American Retreaders' Association changed its name to better reflect its clientele, becoming the International Tire and Rubber Association (ITRA). While the foreign attendance at its recently concluded World Tire Conference and Exhibition in Louisville grew minimally (see accompanying story), this year marked the first time international showgoers had a hand in actually planning and directing the two seminars held for non-English-speaking participants.
Francisco Ibarzabal, director of commercial sales for Mexico City-based Industrias de Hule Galgo S.A., coordinated workshops presented in Spanish and in Portugese. His company is the largest tread rubber manufacturer in Mexico, and also produces rubber automotive and industrial parts.
``Letting us handle our own workshops made a big difference this year. It gave the event a different feeling for the international people,'' he told TIRE BUSINESS on the show floor.
In the past, ITRA made all the arrangements for the workshops held for the show's international contingent, according to Mr. Ibarzabal. Two years ago at a seminar conducted in Spanish, he said the presenters were an Italian who spoke three languages including Spanish, and a gentleman from Brazil who spoke Portugese.
This year, ITRA invited Mr. Ibarzabal to coordinate everything from the choice of speakers to topics, he said.
A Spanish workshop covered ``How to optimize the acquisition of casings for retreading.'' It had about 160 attendees.
A Portugese seminar entitled ``Putting the market and products together'' addressed joint ventures among retread product manufacturers, retread plants and fleets. It drew about 40 participants.
Mr. Ibarzabal said he's hoping to expand next year's non-English seminar programs. This past show he counted attendees from countries including Brazil, Uraguay, Mexico, Honduras, El Salvador, Panama, Chile, Columbia, Ecuador, Argentina and Spain.
``In the U.S. you have different roads, different maintenance programs, ... your problems are different than ours,'' he said. ``It's good for us to understand your country's (retreading and commercial dealership-related) problems, but they're not ours.
``So it's better for us to be able to share our problems and try to solve them.''
Mr. Ibarzabal said he believes that since ITRA's name change, association officials have tried and succeeded in getting more input from show participants outside the U.S.