MIAMI BEACH, Fla.—The Tire Association of North America and training soon may be synonymous. ``TANA intends to become nothing less than the industry's premier training organization,'' President Jim Shook said in a speech Feb. 20 at the association's OTR (off-the-road) Tire Conference in Miami Beach.
The organization will continue to conduct its annual convention and trade show in Las Vegas and offer its members a wide range of services and benefits. ``But at the top of TANA's priorities—and the focus of the resources derived from these endorsements—will be training for tire dealers and their employees,'' he said.
The reason for this focus, Mr. Shook said, is simple: In surveys, TANA members consistently have identified training as the No. 1 service they want from the association.
``Ask any tire dealer, and they too will probably identify training as a priority for their stores,'' the TANA president said.
TANA's training offerings include a just launched Internet-based, interactive program focusing on the basics of mounting and demounting passenger and light truck tires.
This two-and-one-half hour program is offered free to TANA members, Mr. Shook said.
``If you, as a tire dealer, are a member of TANA, own a computer with a modem and have access to an online service, we will give you a password, which will give you and your employees unlimited access to the training course absolutely free,'' he said.
TANA also intends to organize live, on-the-job, introductory, basic training courses on tire and battery installation and service to groups of dealers in their own communities.
One possible way of doing this, Mr. Shook said, would be through donated tractor-trailer training rigs outfitted with donated tire installation equipment. These vehicles would travel around the country offering training to hundreds of tire store technicians ``on a very affordable basis,'' he said.
``We would need sponsors, like equipment manufacturers and, of course, the major tire makers,'' he said. ``But what could be more practical and hands-on than this type of training?''
Federal and state training grants also could help off-set the cost of this training, he added.
In addition to the Internet-based training, TANA will launch the first of three technology conferences in May for tire dealers, Mr. Shook said. Sponsored, in part, by Okidata, a computer printer and fax machine supplier, these sessions will focus on the so-called Y2K problem, marketing on the Internet, how to use computers more effectively and training store personnel.
Also in May, TANA will launch a three-day retail tire leadership development program to help tire retail and automotive service managers better run their operations.
Later this year, TANA will offer a sales and marketing course for inside and outside sales personnel in retail and automotive service stores. ``We hope to have this program on the Internet, too,'' Mr. Shook said, noting dealers will be charged for this session.
TANA also plans to organize a tire technician time management program at several sites around the country and announced at the OTR conference a comprehensive training course on complying with Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulations. This program includes a video tape and manual and will cost TANA members $195 to participate.
``Our goal is not only to have training programs available to all TANA members but to members of every other industry association as well,'' Mr. Shook said.
The association will share revenues with any other industry association that jointly sponsors these training sessions with TANA, Mr. Shook said. This will allow dealers to continue membership in organizations other than just TANA.