The leadership of the Tire Association of North America has taken a huge step forward in bringing democracy and straight talk back to the organization. Beginning in 2000, TANA members—for the first time within memory—will cast their votes directly for association president, first and second vice presidents, secretary, treasurer and board of directors.
This is a major change from the current set-up in which TANA's officers are elected by the board of directors rather than the membership at large.
In fact, board members themselves haven't been elected by TANA's membership either. They're appointed or elected by the state tire dealer associations—including some whose members don't even belong to the national.
This is unacceptable for a member-driven organization.
TANA's chief policy making board should be elected by the association's own membership.
TANA also is moving in the right direction in reducing the unwieldy size of its board to 36 members from 88 and shaving the size of its executive committee to six from 18.
A smaller board would be even more practical. Trying to get 36 members together for a board meeting won't be easy.
But it's a substantial improvement over the present 88-member set up. Getting that group together has proved so daunting in the past that most decisions were left to the executive committee.
Equally refreshing is the association's forthrightness in disclosing its financial condition, as it did in the May 14 news release announcing the changes in governance. TANA's board, May 8, approved a $2 million budget for 1998 and was told by auditors the association has erased the nearly $1 million deficit it faced last year.
That's welcome news in both cases—not only because TANA has returned to the black, but because the association's membership now knows exactly where the organization stands. In the past the operating budget was viewed as ``proprietary information.''
So secret was this amount, in fact, it was not even disclosed in the treasurer's report at the group's annual meeting.
While TANA has taken great strides in making the association more democratic, its new leadership, with the assistance of Executive Vice President David Poisson, still has ways to go in bringing the group to its potential.
TANA needs more benefits, like the proposed training and certification program for tire service workers, to convince dealers of its membership's worth.
Yet dealers and other potential TANA members should be encouraged by the association's rebirth following its disastrous 1996 convention in Atlanta.
TANA members not only have brought their association back from the brink of extinction—they have retaken control of it as well.