LAS VEGAS-If members approve, the industry's two largest trade groups-the Tire Association of North America (TANA) and the International Tire & Rubber Association (ITRA)-will merge, forming a single organization representing virtually all segments of the tire industry.
Plans to combine the two rival organizations were announced Oct. 30 at TANA's annual membership meeting during the Specialty Equipment Market Association/International Tire Expo in Las Vegas. Elected officers of the two groups said they have been working on the details on the merger for about 21/2 years.
Officials said merger plans were approved Oct. 11 by ITRA's board and Oct. 29 by TANA's board.
Ballots will be mailed to members of both groups in December for a membership vote on the proposed merger, as mandated by non-profit laws. If two-thirds of the participating members of each group approve the plan, TANA's membership of 3,600 persons and ITRA's 1,800 will form a single national association effective July 1, 2002. Officials are preparing a marketing and public relations campaign to encourage their respective memberships to vote in favor of the merger.
The combined group-which has yet to be named-will maintain TANA's quarters in Reston, Va., and ITRA's in Louisville, Ky., for the time being. The joint association's 36-member board of directors initially will consist of all current TANA and ITRA board members. Future boards will be elected by the membership.
TANA President Steve Disney will be the new organization's first president, serving from July 1, 2002, to Nov. 4, 2002. He will be followed by current ITRA President Tom Raben, whose term will last for one year. After that, the presidency will alternate between the respective officers of the two groups, beginning with TANA Vice President Larry Morgan and later ITRA Vice President Dick Gust.
Ross Kogel, who currently heads TANA's administrative staff in Reston, will be the executive vice president of the new organization, the two associations said in a joint news release.
Marvin Bozarth, who heads ITRA's administrative staff, previously announced plans to retire at the end of this year.
ITRA's Mr. Raben called the proposed merger ``terrific for the associations and great for the industry. We are creating an organization that will offer tire dealers, retreaders, repairers, tire and rubber recyclers and all others in the tire industry the training, certification, educational programs, representation in Washington, and improved trade shows that they need.''
He added that the merger plan was crafted to maintain what he called the ``cultures'' of both ITRA and TANA.
Officials said the merger will eliminate the duplication of services between TANA and ITRA and streamline the financial structure of the tire industry's non-profit activities.
``Just think of all of the efforts a combined association can undertake on behalf of the tire industry,'' said TANA's past president, Nick Hodel.
``Information, training, meetings and conventions, membership benefits, certification programs, consultative services, technical advice, representation in Washington, the list goes on and on. This new organization can really help tire businesses,'' he said.
Mr. Hodel added that the new organization should promote cooperation among tire dealers and retreaders, tire manufacturers, tread rubber manufacturers, tire wholesalers and distributors, suppliers of equipment, tire and rubber recycling, tire repair professionals and allied interests in the transportation, rubber and tire industries.
The merger plan also calls for:
* Continuing to hold the International Tire Expo in Las Vegas during October or November of each year;
* Continuing the current ITRA conference and trade show on an every-other-year basis, focusing on the commercial tire, retread, and recycling segments of the tire industry. The next such show is scheduled for March 27-29, 2003, at the new Kentucky International Convention Center in downtown Louisville;
* Continuing TANA's ``Off-the-Road'' Tire Conference each February;
* Following ITRA's current practice of offering tire and rubber regional recycling conferences and regional tire service technician training and certification programs.
* Maintaining both organizations' publications for members; and
* Preserving ITRA's and TANA's industry ``Hall of Fame,'' awards, retread appearance contest, annual meetings, social events and other traditions.