Current Issue
Published on August 31, 1998

TANA MUST KEEP DEALERS FIRST

Who's looking out for the independent tire dealer these days? That question arises following Goodyear's recent decision to begin selling tires through Sam's

Club, the members-only discount chain owned by Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and feared by dealers for

its low-ball pricing.

One day before announcing its intentions, Goodyear informed the Tire Association of North

America, which in its newly revised role as a "tire industry association" obligingly accepted

Goodyear's decision.

TANA, which last November changed its name and expanded its membership to include tire

makers and suppliers, needs to decide where its loyalties lie when the interests of dealers and

manufacturers don't coincide.

Only six years ago, the same group, then called the National Tire Dealers & Retreaders

Association, issued "The Independent Tire Dealers' Bill of Rights," protesting similar actions by tire makers that were not in the best interest of dealers.

Now the association appears flattered at having been forewarned of Goodyear's move and has

accepted it without so much as a protest.

TANA President Pamela Fitzgerald, herself a Goodyear dealer in Melbourne, Fla., called the tire

maker's willingness to inform the association a "real breakthrough for us in dealer-manufacturer

relations."

Ms. Fitzgerald said Goodyear has assured TANA its expansion into Sam's was "not being sought

at the expense of independent tire dealers."

With all due respect to Ms. Fitzgerald and the association, some dealers may

disagree—particularly after seeing their prices on Goodyear tires being compared with Sam's on

the discounter's wall.

Equally surprising is the resigned response by Goodyear dealers, who not long ago were

outraged when the tire maker began selling its brand through Sears, Roebuck and Co. stores.

Independent tire dealers have remained North America's leading retail tire channel, thanks in

great measure to a strong national association that guarded their best interests.

TANA must keep this at the forefront when making future decisions.

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