RESTON, Va.—Reacting to member opinion and its own perceived needs, the Tire Association of North America has re-established its government relations function, which it had abandoned as a cost-cutting measure. Declaring the decision "an initiative to boost the association's influence in Washington and to renew its commitment to government affairs efforts on behalf of the tire industry," TANA announced May 12 it had hired Rebecca MacDicken as its director of government affairs.
Ms. MacDicken served as director of legislative affairs at the National Roofing Contractors Association before getting the tire association job.
Before that, she was legislative representative for the National Tooling and Machining Association, and spent five years working in Congress with the House Committee on Small Business, working her way up from intern to press secretary.
Interviewed by phone, Ms. MacDicken said her previous experience with the House committee prepared her very well for her new position.
"Our membership is made up largely of small businesses—tire dealers with fewer than 60 employees," she said, "so all the issues are the same: taxes, OSHA (the Occupational Safety and Health Administration), the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency)."
She admitted she had some catching up to do with some tire-industry-specific issues, such as the federal excise tax on truck tires, but said she was very familiar with the first major issue she faces: the estate or "death" tax. She called it "one of the most egregious taxes" small-business people face.
Congress could act on a bill to kill or reduce the estate tax as early as the first two weeks of June, Ms. MacDicken said.
TANA President Tom Wright and Interim Executive Vice President Ross Kogel were attending the association's board meeting in Puerto Rico and were unavailable for comment.
In a prepared statement, however, Mr. Wright said: "Rebecca will give tire dealers a voice in Washington. Her extensive lobbying experience and expertise in small-business legislation will make government representation a strength for TANA."
Ms. MacDicken, a graduate of Michigan State University, will work out of TANA's Reston offices.
In its previous incarnation as the National Tire Dealers & Retreaders Association, the association was known for its aggressive stances on legislative and regulatory issues affecting tire dealers. In late 1998, however, then-TANA Executive Vice President David Poisson eliminated the association's government affairs function in his continuing effort to put TANA's operations in the black.
In February 2000, Mr. Poisson suddenly announced his resignation from TANA, effective March 1, to join R.R. Donnelly & Co., the Chicago-based commercial printer and information services firm. Soon after, Mr. Kogel began investigating the possibility of hiring a new government affairs director.