Every year about this time, tire dealers are faced with the decision of whether to attend the tire industry's largest gathering-the Specialty Equipment Market Association/International Tire Expo, sponsored in part by the Tire Association of North America.
In the past, making that decision has mostly revolved around the cost of travel and lodging at the Las Vegas event, whether the dealer and several employees can spare the time away from the business, and if the program and trade show look interesting enough to attend.
This year, of course, there's another factor weighing heavily on potential attendees' minds.
Dealers thinking of going to the show must consider whether to do so in light of the terrorist attacks against the U.S. in mid September.
This is a difficult and highly emotional decision-one each tire dealer must make individually.
But in making that decision, dealers should consider the importance to the nation of getting back to business as soon as possible. Sometimes that involves air travel.
President Bush said as much shortly after the attacks and is doing what he can to quell public fear about traveling. He has urged Americans not to be afraid to fly and has established stricter security measures, including placing federal marshals on airplanes and posting armed National Guard troops at air terminals.
The trade associations organizing the huge Automotive Aftermarket Industry Week shows in Las Vegas Oct. 30-Nov. 2 also believe it's vital that ``our industry move forward.''
We agree. If business does not go forward and lives don't return to normal, then the terrorists will have achieved their objectives. They will have disrupted our society and caused us to live amid a culture of fear.
Tire dealers are no strangers to risk. In establishing their dealerships, many risked losing their life savings, years of hard work and sacrifice and possibly their families' financial future. But that risk was worth taking in return for the chance to become their own boss and to reap the financial rewards of their efforts.
Likewise, there are compelling reasons to attend this year's SEMA/ITE show, including the opportunity to bring back new business ideas and view the latest in products and equipment.
Dealers must weigh these advantages and disadvantages in determining whether or not to go to this year's show. But admittedly, this year it will be a little bit more difficult.
We encourage dealers to attend the SEMA/ITE show, while recognizing that doing so remains a personal decision. As its organizers say: ``The show will go on.'' And, as of this writing, TANA officials had received not a single room cancellation at the association's Aladdin headquarters hotel since the Sept. 11 tragedy.