LAS CRUCES, N.M.—The roads that snake in and around Las Cruces, N.M.'s Mesilla Valley have much to offer a runner: Clean air. Quiet. Solitude. Mountainscapes that never look quite the same on any two days. Tire Association of North America Past President Jim Shook, whose term ended Nov. 3, runs these roads. And for the past year, the owner of Shook Tire Centers in Las Cruces also has been running elsewhere, setting the pace for TANA.
Now that the third-generation tireman and accomplished landscape painter has turned in the TANA presidential baton, Mr. Shook says he couldn't be more satisfied.
``It's been a very positive year, the whole year,'' he said, summing up his term in office. ``I learned there's a super-nice bunch of people out there, that the problems a few of us have are the problems all of us have.''
One of the highlights of his term, Mr. Shook added, was attending about a dozen state meetings.
``It certainly helps to get out there and meet the members. It's so easy to sit back above and beyond the membership. It gets you back down into the ranks where you visit with them and listen to their problems.''
``I guarantee you,'' he continued with a chuckle, ``they'll put you in the corner and tell you all about it. And that's what we need. We need the membership input.''
Based on that input, Mr. Shook and TANA made training the top priority. Last year, they figured that planning, funding and implementing the various programs—installation, safety, marketing—would take three years. ``We're way ahead of schedule as far as I'm concerned,'' Mr. Shook said.``Year Two will be implementation.''
Mr. Shook and other TANA leaders say a key advantage is joining forces with Akron-based Smithers Scientific Services, a leading training and research company in the tire industry. Smithers will operate as TANA's training arm.
Tire manufacturers have been ``very supportive'' and are ready to help as soon as the details are worked out, Mr. Shook said. Subjects will range from safety, handling tires and batteries, and Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) compliance, to sales and marketing, including fleet sales and ``cold calling.''
In addition to hands-on sessions, classroom- and Internet-based classes, instructional material will be available on videotapes and CD-ROMs.
``What we're trying to do is set up training classes that go to the state sessions,'' Mr. Shook said. ``States can then look over the list and decide which they'd like, they'll call us and we'll send an instructor.''
He's also pragmatic. ``I'm sure there will be a few mistakes along the way. And some classes will bomb,'' he acknowledged.
``But all roads are a washboard when you first start. These classes will make the dealers more proficient. Most people get somebody in the office and they don't have a basic feeling on how to sell and the ways to sell. If you go to a class run by experts in the field, they can give you tips on what you shouldn't do and what you should do.''
Mr. Shook is also pleased about ``getting the new format for electing the new board next year and getting that passed and set up so we can go forward with the new board.''
Currently an 88-member board, it will be pared to 36 July 1. And the board that assumes office in November 2000 will be completely elected by TANA's membership.
Modestly, Mr. Shook said his successor as TANA's top elected official, Tom Wright of Wright Tire Service in Anoka, Minn., ``will easily do as good a job, if not better as president'' and find that serving the 4,000-plus-member organization ``makes you realize where the strength of TANA is.
``It's still with the small dealers in this country.''