The Tire Association of North America's desire to train and certify all technicians who work on passenger and light truck tires in the U.S. is a lofty and worthwhile goal.
But to carry this off, the association will need help from the owner of every tire outlet in the country-and that's a tall order.
No matter how worthwhile TANA's goal might be, reaching it will depend on whether individual employers are willing to invest the time and money to provide such training. Service technicians likewise must come to view training and certification as worthy of their efforts.
The Reston, Va.-based trade group must convince dealers that training and certifying tire service employees not only is the right thing to do, but also financially sound for their businesses. To persuade business owners of that, TANA needs to demonstrate and promote the value of em-ploying certified tire techs.
This is a difficult but not insurmountable task.
The International Tire & Rubber Association, for example, has achieved laudable success in gaining dealer support for its Commercial Tire Service and Training Certification Program.
Since introducing its hands-on training program for commercial service personnel five years ago, ITRA has taught and certified 5,367 technicians and 721 instructors. The Louisville, Ky.-based association currently is developing a similar training program for passenger and light truck tire technicians as well.
One reason for the ITRA program's success is the growing number of commercial tire dealers who have come to realize that having trained and certified technicians underscores the value of their product and service offerings. Trucking fleets also have begun to realize that far too much is at stake from a safety and economic viewpoint to entrust servicing their tires to dealerships that lack trained technicians.
To enhance the value of its instruction, ITRA provides uniform patches and other means by which dealerships can advertise that their techs are trained and certified. The group also publishes a national directory of commercial tire dealerships, highlighting those that employ ITRA-certified technicians.
Incentives for training techs also exist in regard to servicing passenger and LT tires, where many dealers are finding it costly-if not difficult-to obtain liability insurance due to outrageously expensive lawsuits. Getting their tire techs trained and certified should assist dealers in negotiating more favorable insurance rates.
TANA's program doesn't provide hands-on training, but it does have the ability to increase the professionalism and knowledge of passenger and LT tire techs nonetheless. TANA also deserves credit for trying to have its program made part of the curriculum at the nation's trade schools, thereby helping prepare tomorrow's techs.
But to reach its goal of training all tire service workers, TANA has a major selling job to do.