It's official. The two largest tire industry trade groups, the Tire Association of North America and the International Tire & Rubber Association, will become one.
Members of the two associations approved plans to merge in voting that ended Jan. 31. The two groups officially announced the results of the vote Feb. 14 during the TANA-sponsored ``Off-the-Road'' Tire Conference in Bermuda.
The ITRA membership approved the merger by a vote of 321 to 3, and the TANA membership vote passed by a count of 812 to 23, easily surpassing the two-thirds majority from each membership vote needed for acceptance.
Pending approval of the merger by the Kentucky Secretary of State and the Internal Revenue Service, the two organizations will combine on July 1, 2002.
``Another hurdle is behind us,'' said ITRA President Tom Raben in response to the vote. ``It is great to see the members pass the measure by such a wide margin. We really have a tremendous amount of support for the industry's largest volunteer effort.''
Anticipating membership approval, Mr. Raben said the organizations have been acting as a unified body for several months, merging staff operations and boards of directors actions into a single organized effort.
The merger votes are only the latest in a series of ongoing steps to finalize the merger.
``Internally, we want to proceed as if the merger has already taken place,'' said TANA President Steve Disney, who will become the combined group's first president, serving from July 1 to Nov. 4, 2002.
``Effective mergers are orchestrated well before the legal date of the merger itself. We will be up and running on July 1, and to a degree, we already are.''
Mr. Disney said dozens of joint ITRA/TANA efforts are under way.
The joint ITRA/TANA government and public affairs committee, co-chaired by TANA board member Terry Sparks and ITRA Secretary/Treasurer Terry Westhafer, already has met three times to discuss current government affairs efforts and plans to educate consumers about the safe and proper maintenance of tires. In addition, ITRA and TANA are responding jointly to NHTSA requests for comments regarding implementation of the Transportation Recall Enhancement Accountability and Documentation (TREAD) Act.
The joint ITRA/TANA governance committee, co-chaired by TANA board member Tony Koles and ITRA executive committee member Jimmy Crews, also has met to review the association's draft succession plan. This includes determining the size of the board and the members who will serve on it as well as to draft the bylaws of the new organization.
And the joint ITRA/TANA committee, co-chaired by TANA Vice President Bob Malerba and ITRA Executive Committee member Randy Drake, already has convened to discuss current and future training and education efforts for the new organization.
Other committee meetings that have already taken place include:
* The joint ITRA/TANA membership development and retention committee, co-chaired by TANA board member Jim Melvin and ITRA executive committee member Dick Gust, which met Feb. 1 to discuss current and future association membership efforts; and
* The joint ITRA/TANA strategic planning committee, co-chaired by TANA President-elect Larry Morgan and ITRA executive committee member Mark Whaley, which met Feb. 4 to discuss the new organization's strategic goals and to plan the course for the joint association in the coming years.
In addition, the joint ITRA/TANA executive committee, co-chaired by ITRA's Mr. Raben and TANA's Mr. Disney, met Feb. 13 in Bermuda, during the Off-the-Road Conference to discuss merger progress to date and to establish early goals for the new organization.
During the conference, Ross Kogel, TANA's executive vice president, and Mr. Disney told Tire Business several goals for the merged organization have been laid out. Chief among these are:
* Representation in Washington;
* Effective trade shows and conferences;
* Training programs at many levels;
* New benefits and services;
* Streamlining and strengthening the organizations resources; and
* Act as a public advocacy body for the tire industry.
The two TANA executives acknowledged there is an overlap of about 300 members. The new group will address the shortfall of income resulting from these overlaps by new membership initiatives. However ,details were not available at this time.
At the staff level, Mr. Kogel has established more than 50 internal focus groups to address all operational issues related to the merger.
Other joint efforts include an ongoing push to strengthen the new association's ties with state, regional and provincial associations.
The merger process is going well, Mr. Disney said. ``We'll continue to work very hard to make the merger and the new organization a success,'' he said. ``The merger is good for our members, and it's good for the industry.''
The merger reunites two organizations that split in 1957 when the National Tire Dealers & Retreaders Association, the predecessor to TANA, barred retreading consultant and trade journalist George R. Edwards from attending the association's annual trade show. This followed a dispute over who deserved credit for persuading the U.S. Army not to undertake its own retreading operations.
This infuriated Mr. Edwards' companion at the show, Radcliff, Ky., retreader E.L. ``Red'' Davis, president of the Central States Retreaders Association and the principal retreading supplier to the Army's Fort Knox, Ky., Armored Center.
As a result of the rebuff, the two went on to create their own trade show the following year-the Louisville (Ky.) Retreaders Conference, which became the industry's largest commercial tire trade show and exposition. In addition, the two broadened the group's membership base nationally, creating a national organization dedicated to retreading.
It changed its name to the American Retreaders Association in 1964 and became the International Tire & Rubber Association in 1996.
TANA is an 81-year-old Virginia-based trade group representing all sectors of the North American replacement tire market. The organization was formed in 1921 as the National Tire Dealers Association in Chicago. In 1935, it was renamed the National Association of Independent Tire Dealers and became the National Tire Dealers & Retreaders Association in 1955.
In 1997, the NTDRA was renamed the Tire Association of North America and today is the largest and oldest tire industry trade group in North America.