Congratulations to the members and leadership of the Tire Association of North America and the International Tire & Rubber Association on approving the long-sought merger between the two groups.
It's been a long time coming. And unlike the most recent presidential election, this vote has a mandate. An overwhelming majority of ITRA and TANA members voted in favor of the combination, with only three ITRA members and 23 TANA members voting against it.
So at least the members of both groups always won't be questioning whether this was the right thing to do.
Now that it's official and TANA and ITRA will become one on July 1, the real work of building a new and even more valuable organization begins.
This is not to minimize the tremendous efforts TANA and ITRA board members and elected officials have put forth in getting their groups to this point. It took more than two years and much behind-the-scenes negotiating to finalize the agreement.
But the next step may be even more difficult. The new group must mold a single association that addresses the needs of the entire North American tire industry, including independent tire dealers-both commercial and retail-retreaders, wholesalers and yes, even tire makers, private branders and other industry suppliers
Like any other merger, this one will require melding two different association cultures into one-something that seems easy on paper but often is difficult in practice.
The new group's leadership also must address the problem of what to do with two separate headquarters-ITRA's in Louisville, Ky., and TANA's in Reston, Va.-along with redundant positions.
And with a significant number of tire dealers and retreaders holding membership in both organizations, they will have to attract new members to replace the dues that will be lost by those who now will, in essence, drop one of their memberships.
The groups' leaders are well aware of these issues and problems and have established a number of joint ITRA and TANA committees to tackle them.
Already these groups have met to discuss current governmental affairs efforts and consumer education. They are looking into drafting new bylaws and establishing the size of the new association's board. They also are reviewing current and future training efforts, membership development and retention, and strategic goals.
TANA and ITRA members must be patient and supportive, while demanding the best from their leadership. The result can only mean a stronger and unified association that benefits dealers and suppliers alike.