SCARBOROUGH, Ontario-Paul Hyatt, the first Canadian secretary of the Tire Association of North America, does not see much difference in the way North American tire dealers do business, no matter where they're from.
``Whether you're a tire dealer in Canada, Mexico or the United States, the only difference is taxation and maybe the kinds of tires you sell,'' said Mr. Hyatt, president of Superior Tire Corp. in the Toronto suburb of Scarborough. ``Tire grading affects us all; and retreading and distribution are all the same.''
Nevertheless, Mr. Hyatt sees his election to the TANA hierarchy-which puts him in line to assume the association's presidency in 2004-as ``quite significant.''
``I'm the first non-American to hold this position, and that's significant for both Mexico and Canada,'' he said. ``We'd like to make an outreach program to Canada and Mexico to have strength in numbers.''
Combined under the TANA banner, tire dealers in Canada, Mexico and the U.S. would have ``a strong voice to be heard,'' he said.
Mr. Hyatt's experience as a tire dealer began in 1955, when he went to work for Superior Tire part time under his father-in-law, Walter Chudy, who founded the firm in 1942. In 1965 Mr. Chudy offered his son-in-law the vice presidency of the dealership; 14 years later, Mr. Hyatt became president and CEO, and eventually bought out Mr. Chudy to become full owner.
Although he served for two years on the board of directors of TANA's predecessor organization-the National Tire Dealers & Retreaders Association-during the 1980s, he is the first Canadian to be in the leadership of either association since the NTDRA was founded in 1921.
Asked what he would like to achieve for Canadian tire dealers while in the TANA hierarchy, Mr. Hyatt said: ``I'd certainly like to see a strong program to strengthen the relationship between the provincial and state dealer organizations and TANA. Certainly, there are a lot of initiatives from the provincial associations that are wonderful.''
The training programs within the provincial associations are particularly good, according to Mr. Hyatt, producing an impressive set of training tapes and CDs. ``We at TANA would like to unite the training programs so we're all on the same page,'' he said. ``We'd like to see uniform certification.''
For example, TANA could tie in with the Ontario Tire Dealers Association to create TANA/OTDA-certified technicians, according to Mr. Hyatt. Also, TANA, state and provincial associations could work together to persuade schools to enhance their training programs for students to go into trades such as auto and tire repair and service.
``We're getting very weak in the trades,'' said Mr. Hyatt, a former elementary school teacher in Scarborough. ``Too many students are chasing dot-com and high-tech jobs. It's imperative we seek out young people and show them the tire industry is a good place to work.''
For that and other reasons, he is enthusiastic regarding TANA's upcoming merger with the International Tire & Rubber Association.
``I think it's a wonderful union that's long overdue,'' he said. ``Now we can represent all the segments of our tire industry, and we will also increase membership. This will improve a lot of things, such as training and education.''
ITRA has ``wonderful training facilities,'' Mr. Hyatt noted, and he sees the merger of ITRA's training programs with TANA's as a golden opportunity. ``When they become combined, you can contact one source for training and technology, no matter what aspect of the business you're in,'' he said. ``One phone call does it all.''
Mr. Hyatt said TANA is ``doing a great job'' presenting the tire industry's case in Washington, D.C. ``Much of the world is governed by what comes out of Washington,'' he said.
There is ``no conflict'' between lobbying efforts for the industry in Ottawa and what takes place in Washington, he said. But it would be to the advantage of North American tire dealers to have a more unified government relations effort in Washington, Ottawa and Mexico City, and he plans to promote that.
Superior Tire now has seven locations in the Greater Toronto area, and Mr. Hyatt plans to open two more stores in 2002. ``We actually offer all the services now, including emissions control, tires and repair,'' he said. The company also plans a number of celebrations to commemorate its 60th anniversary this year, he added.