Recall protests continue
Our company has been an independent tire dealership 29 years, selling all major brands.
One brand we sell is Firestone—and I do not appreciate the abuse and harm it has unfairly received over the past months.
Does anyone seriously believe a manufacturer able to turn out tires that stand up to the harsh treatment of the Indianapolis 500 race—and win—is going to produce dangerous tires for the motoring public?
As independent tire dealers, we should stop knocking their products. Uniroyal, BFGoodrich and Firestone Tire & Rubber Co. no longer exist as independent tire makers—all three are owned by just two major rubber companies. So if it weren't for Bridgestone/Firestone Inc., how many major tire makers would remain for us to buy from?
I still believe in the free enterprise system and hope other dealers do so as well.
Rudy H. Zarcharias
Zach's Tire Co.
The time has come for tire manufacturers to band together, circle the wagons and fight all lawsuits as a unified force. Otherwise, plaintiffs' lawyers are going to pick them clean—one by one.
Shrader Tire & Oil Co.
I have written the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration saying we have encountered defective valve stems on several Ford F550 trucks shod with 225/70R19.5 original equipment tires. We also furnished NHTSA with leaky valve stems taken off the tires of a 2000-model Ford truck with only 11,000 miles of service.
We also have found problems with lots of aluminum OE rims that had become corroded in the area of the tire bead, thereby allowing air to leak out.
One of those tires lost so much pressure it ended up in three pieces after being run flat. Earlier, the owner had driven in saying one of the tires on her van didn't hold air. We demounted and thoroughly cleaned the tire and wheel before remounting it and sealing the bead area.
We then advised the owner that the remaining three tires ought to be cleaned and sealed, as well. However, the owner said she was too busy taking kids here and there.
As a result, one of those untreated tires was run flat, resulting in a blowout. The woman and her kids were very frightened by the experience, and she said she wished she had listened to us.
I'd like to hear whether other tire dealers have encountered similar problems.
Unqualified wheel outlets
I have a problem with suppliers that sell tires and custom wheels to retail outlets lacking the necessary equipment and expertise to properly mount and balance them.
Alignment Tire & Brake Inc.
Newcomer offered help
I've been in the tire business 26 years and would love to help newcomer Carol Uribe, as she requested in her Oct. 23 letter.
Tell her to telephone me if she would like to do so.
Claunch's Tire Service
Editor's note: Ms. Uribe wrote that she recently took over her father's dealership, Llantera Soto (Soto Tires) in Los Angeles, and would like advice from other dealers as to how to build the business. Mr. Claunch's letter was forwarded to her.
The following are excerpts of responses to the question below by visitors to TB's Web site, www.tirebusiness.com.
As newcomers to the workforce, are today's young people different than previous generations?
Generally, youths of today have not had the backyard automotive environment of yesteryear, when their ancestors grew up tinkering with cars.
Such "tinkering" normally included learning about automotive basics so they were able to change and/or improve their auto.
That no longer is necessary and usually not possible with today's high-tech automobiles. Thus, the pool of talented youths available to enter the automotive industry is lean.
Corporate account representative
Being 25, I can only give you the young person's perspective. The idea of working for the same company for your entire career is no longer a focus. The prevailing trend is to change jobs often in an attempt to maximize your potential.
I started working for Pirelli two years ago and many of the salaried employees over the age of 40 have been with Pirelli (or Armstrong Rubber Co. before it was purchased by Pirelli in 1988) for 10 years or more.
Young people, however, do not share that same type of company loyalty. This could be due in part to the Internet. It now is extremely easy to locate a more challenging job with higher pay and better benefits using Web sites such as Hotjobs.com and Monster.com.
The world also is becoming much smaller due in part to the increase in air traffic. A particular geographic location no longer is a limiting factor, and in some cases it may even become a perk.
The European markets also have become dominated by the English language, opening up an entirely new job market for young professionals.
I think young people are much more willing to make several changes early on in their careers. I don't think this necessarily is a negative because, after all, experience is the name of the game.
Quality/Research & Development
Pirelli Tire North America
Little Rock, Ark.