State and regional tire dealer associations don't get the respect they deserve.
Dedicated to helping independent tire dealers survive in an increasingly competitive environment, these groups serve as a watchdog for potentially harmful legislation and regulations.
They also regularly conduct educational workshops and meetings and put on trade shows for their memberships.
When a bill is introduced that could impact tire dealers and retreaders, state and regional associations are among the first to react on behalf of their constituents.
You'd think, then, that all independent tire dealers would firmly support their state associations both as volunteers and financially.
Unfortunately, that's just not the case. Increasingly, many associations are struggling with declining membership, rising costs and dues revenue that fails to keep pace.
For their own welfare, all tire dealers should get behind these groups, which serve as their first line of defense against onerous legislation and unfair competition.
The cost of joining the typical state association is minimal, something like $300 a year. That's peanuts compared with the cost of buying insurance against other hazards.
Most tire dealers, while they may not like it, would never let their insurance lapse lest they leave themselves vulnerable should a catastrophe occur. The same should hold true for membership in their local association.
The dues situation has gotten so bad that at least one state association recently resorted to scare tactics to try and drum up financial support.
The California Tire Dealers Association-South sent out letters facetiously announcing its own demise as a ploy to get members to buy tickets to a fundraising dinner party.
``Don't let apathy kill the association,'' CTDA-S Executive Director Ed Cohn pleaded in his letter.
Increasingly, tire dealers are battered by external factors such as global price competition, safety and environmental regulations, sky rocketing insurance and benefit costs, not to mention increased competition and a soft economy. In this environment, it's unlikely independent tire dealers would have remained North America's No. 1 replacement channel without the support of their state, regional and national tire dealer associations.
These groups, which include the Tire Association of North America and the International Tire & Rubber Association, help define independent tire dealers as a community providing support in good times and bad.
Without strong and viable state and national associations, the future of the independent tire dealer is less secure. Strong associations make for strong dealers.