RESTON, Va.—Now it's official: Ross W. Kogel no longer is "interim" executive vice president of the Tire Association of North America.
The 28-year-old son of dealer Ross T. Kogel, owner of Tire Wholesalers Co. Inc. in Troy, Mich., officially became chief of TANA's administrative staff Oct. 11. He fills the post formerly held by David Poisson, who left in March to join R.R. Donnelly & Co., the Chicago-based commercial printer and information services firm.
Mr. Kogel, part of TANA's Reston-based administrative staff since May 1997, said "it's been a lot of fun—particularly interacting with people who have been so kind in helping me and making this association so successful during the past couple of years."
He was among more than 20 applicants considered for the post, according to TANA President Tom Wright of Wright Tire Service in Anoka, Minn., who chaired the committee appointed to search for Mr. Poisson's replacement.
About three years ago, after earning a bachelor's degree from the College of Wooster in Ohio and a master's in history from Wayne State University in Michigan, Mr. Kogel entered the nation's capital in search of work as a Congressional aide. He sought the assistance of Mr. Poisson, who a year earlier had taken over TANA's top administrative job and knew his way around Washington's political scene.
Mr. Poisson was so impressed with the young man and his rsum, he persuaded him to forsake politics in favor of a job as TANA's research manager, mostly fielding questions from members and others and following up on their requests. Within a few months, Mr. Kogel's title was changed to marketing manager and later to director of marketing to reflect his expanding role in the group's affairs.
In February, after Mr. Poisson announced he was planning to leave, Mr. Kogel asked to be included among those interviewed for the top job. While the committee continued to search and deliberate, he agreed to carry out the executive vice president's duties on an interim basis and then step back gracefully into his former role if someone else was chosen.
The intervening months have been anything but uneventful. During the period Mr. Kogel was in charge, the association has:
Carried out the first membership-wide election of officers and board members in its 80-year history;
Published its first membership directory in four years and launched a new e-mail publication for members along with a fax newsletter exclusively for its board;
Re-established a government relations department and hired lobbyist Rebecca MacDicken. In that arena, TANA joined forces with a coalition of business organizations to oppose unfavorable ergonomics regulations proposed by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration; stumped for the elimination of the federal inheritance tax and—most recently following the recall of 6.5 million Firestone tires—battled to prevent legislation imposing fines and prison terms on dealers who sell defective tires;
Implemented the "TANA Tire Technician" program, which allows service personnel to obtain training and certification in how to properly mount and demount passenger and light truck tires without leaving their home shops. (More than 700 training packages, which include a CD ROM disk and training manual, have been purchased to date, Mr. Kogel told Tire Business.); and
Sold out all available space in next month's International Tire Expo trade show in Las Vegas.
"We surveyed members, asking them: `What's most important to you?'|" Mr. Kogel said. "Not surprisingly, training, trade show and government affairs were the top three areas chosen."
A competitive runner who tries to get in at least six miles of practice each day, Mr. Kogel and Katherine—his bride of eight months—live in Arlington, Va.