AKRON-The tire industry is up and running, but it's not business as usual.
Since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, several tire companies have canceled or postponed events and curtailed travel over concerns about safety and security of the airways.
At the same time, the show will go on as far as the huge Automotive Aftermarket Industry Week is concerned.
That event, which includes the International Tire Expo/SEMA show, sponsored in part by the Tire Association of North America, will take place as scheduled Oct. 28 to Nov. 2 in Las Vegas.
``As the nation continues to reflect on these tragedies, it is time-as President Bush states-to resume our daily routines in our family, civic and business lives,'' three of the AAIW's sponsoring associations said in a media advisory. ``With this in mind, planning continues to make the 2001 Automotive Aftermarket Industry Week event the best ever.''
While AAIW will go on as planned, the same is not true for several other industry programs.
Bridgestone/Firestone Inc. postponed its annual Bizcon meeting for commercial tire dealers, citing the need to ``better serve America and our economy'' by servicing trucking fleets in the wake of the attacks.
Originally set for Sept. 26-28 in New Orleans, Bizcon will be rescheduled for March or April 2002, BFS said.
``Our President has asked America to `go back to work,''' John Lampe, chairman, Chuck Ramsey, president of BFS commercial tire, and Singh Ahluwalia, vice president of commercial sales, said in a letter to dealers. ``And that is what we will do at Bridgestone/Firestone.''
They added the company is going to work harder than ever, ``because now more than ever before, America needs its trucks moving, as it prepares to do whatever is necessary to end the evil which has now taken so many innocent lives in America.''
Falken Tire Corp. in Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., also canceled its Sept. 15-20 dealer meeting in Lake Tahoe. The event, which annually attracts nearly 100 dealers, spouses and company employees, will be rescheduled for late May or June next year, said Richard Smallwood, vice president of sales and marketing.
Falken nixed the event for several reasons, Mr. Smallwood said, including concerns that travelers might face delays in transportation. Company officials also didn't think it appropriate to be celebrating during a national tragedy.
In polling of invited dealers, Falken did find some still wanted to attend. But in the end the company opted to cancel, a position Mr. Smallwood said ``was the right thing to do.''
Goodyear planned to introduce a new light truck highway tire to the media Oct. 8-10 in Carmel, Calif., but chose instead to cancel the event ``out of concern for everybody,'' a company spokesman said.
``A certain amount of healing in our country is needed right now and to ask the media to get on a plane and fly across the country was asking too much,'' he said.
Goodyear still plans to launch the tire, which also involves a new brand, but will do so using the Web and U.S. mail.
Cooper Tire & Rubber Co., too had a ride-and-drive for dealers scheduled for mid-September at its San Antonio, Texas, test track, but decided to cancel it. ``Our dealers didn't want to travel,'' a company spokeswoman said.
Several tire firms also have curtailed travel following the attacks. Cooper has banned all international travel for an undetermined period. ``We want to be prudent and protect our employees,'' the spokeswoman said.
Michelin North America also has told its employees not to travel internationally, unless they are returning home, a spokesman said.
Domestic travel is permitted with the approval of a manager, but the company is encouraging the use of other types of communication such as video and teleconferencing or shifting meetings to a later date.
At Goodyear, essential travel is permitted at the discretion of a manager working with the individual, a spokesman said. But ``some people are traveling,'' he added.