RESTON, Va.—The Tire Association of North America has a new program offering on-site training and certification to service technicians in how to properly mount, demount and balance passenger and light truck tires. The association said the new "TANA Tire Technician" course, which includes a CD-ROM, training manual and a certification test, is the first in a series of programs that will allow technicians to ac-quire training and certification at their place of employment, thus sparing employers the cost of sending them elsewhere for that purpose.
Course content includes tire and wheel terminology, service, wheel assembly, balancing and radial tire repair, the association said in a May 24 announcement.
Trainees can study this material at their own pace using the program's CD-ROM and/or printed training manual, which contains much of the same content. When ready, they take a 91-question certification test—under the supervision of a manager or boss—and immediately mail in the completed exam for grading.
Those receiving passing scores are awarded an arm patch as well as a printed certificate attesting to their status as a "TANA Tire Technician."
Association President Tom Wright, of Wright Tire Service in Anoka, Minn., called it the first in-store training and testing program for tire dealers and their employees.
He said such training and testing will prevent injuries, increase professionalism among technicians and help tire dealers find, train and retain quality employees. "The entire industry will benefit from this program," Mr. Wright said.
Association officials said the program has been in development for about a year under the direction of TANA's Training Committee.
The package is the latest outgrowth of an Internet-based training course the association introduced several years ago and later converted to CD-ROM format because the Internet proved too slow a medium for many course users.
TANA President-elect Nick Hodel, who chaired the committee, called the new program "truly affordable," even for small dealerships. Its $49.95 price tag, he said, is well below the $400 per year that most dealers are willing to spend to train an employee.
To keep even these costs to a minimum, Mr. Hodel suggested that small dealerships purchase one initial set of course materials, priced at $49.95, then buy additional tests as needed for $19.95 apiece.
Currently, the program is available solely to TANA members. However, Mr. Hodel said the association may consider offering all or portions of it to the industry at large. He added that the program also could be used as school curriculum.
In addition to Mr. Hodel, of the Northwest Tire Factory in Portland, Ore., and Mr. Wright, other members of TANA's Training Committee include Paul Dvorak of American Industrial Tire Corp. in Dallas; Bob Malerba of Malerba's Silver City Tire Co. in Meridian, Conn.; Sherry Marcoe of Jeff Clay & Sons Inc., Kissimmee, Fla.; Larry Sisson of Becker Tire & Treading Co., Great Bend, Kan.; and John Buettner, TANA's vice president of training and technical services.
Future courses could cover the servicing of large off-the-road, truck, farm, industrial and other types of tires. A segment providing training and certification for OTR tire service technicians already is under development, Mr. Hodel said.
Meanwhile, the association is mulling the possibility of adding a hands-on certification component to its passenger and light truck tire training program.
Interim Executive Vice President Ross Kogel Jr. said the association will survey program participants to determine if hands-on certification is needed.
Mr. Kogel said TANA is considering a plan whereby, once 25 technicians in a region have been certified via the program's mail-in test, the association would schedule a half-day event in which technicians could demonstrate their skill and knowledge under the direction of a qualified instructor.
Those receiving passing scores on that hands-on test would receive a second certification patch attesting to the fact.