After the pending merger on July 1 of the International Tire & Rubber Association and the Tire Association of North America, the new organization intends to focus on a series of 12 plans aimed at making the group more volunteer driven.
As far as a new name for the group, Ross Kogel, acting executive vice president for both associations, told Tire Business the selections have been narrowed down to several choices. ``We'll have one soon-certainly before the merger date,'' he said.
Noting that the merging of operations is ahead of schedule, the associations said the following initiatives would be top priorities:
* Training and education. Two training initiatives, including an industry certification program, are already under development by the joint training and education committee. The association expects to make a major announcement in late 2002 regarding the debut of its first new offering. The committee consists of ITRA and TANA volunteers working in conjunction with staff, pooling the resources of the two groups on training efforts for the first time in their histories.
* Trade shows and conferences. The association is planning four major events in the coming year to serve many of the industry's major markets, including the scrap tire and rubber recycling, retail, off-the-road, commercial and retread markets.
Those activities will include: a conference for the scrap tire and rubber recycling market, held in Ocean City, Md., Sept. 26-28; the Specialty Equipment Market Association/International Tire Expo in Las Vegas Nov. 5-8; the ``Off-the Road Tire Conference'' Feb. 20-22, 2003; and after a hiatus, the World Tire Expo, which returns to Louisville, Ky., March 27-29, 2003.
* Government affairs. For the first time in their histories, ITRA and TANA are acting as a joint organization in their lobbying efforts. The associations already are submitting comments to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, most recently responding to NHTSA's request for information about retread tire testing standards.
``The joint organization is responding aggressively to NHTSA's requests for comments, and, most recently, standing up for retreaders,'' said Tom Raben, a retreader and current ITRA president. ``With the government's focus on tire testing, we are now communicating with NHTSA on behalf of retreaders.''
* Public advocacy. ITRA and TANA are taking part in ``National Tire Safety Week'' in cooperation with the Rubber Manufacturers Association (RMA).
The government and public affairs committee, yet another joint ITRA/TANA group, will oversee this ongoing multi-year effort to educate consumers about tire safety and maintenance in conjunction with RMA and other industry groups, including NHTSA.
``Public advocacy will be a key goal for the new organization,'' said TANA President Steve Disney. ``Our industry must continue to educate consumers about proper tire maintenance and the performance capabilities of tires.''
* Work with other associations. The joint association has worked closely with state, regional and provincial associations, with Mr. Disney scheduled to speak at more than a dozen meetings this year alone.
Along with these regional associations, the new group plans to work closely with the Tread Rubber and Tire Repair Materials Manufacturers Group, the Retread Industry Government Advisory Council, the Tire Retread Information Bureau, the Tire Dealers Association of Canada, the Specialty Equipment Market Association, the Rubber Manufacturers Association (RMA), and many others.
ITRA and TANA assisted RMA in the recent past through such activities as: contacting ITRA/TANA members to debut the RMA ``Be Smart-Play Your Part'' tire safety program at their stores across the U.S.; advertising RMA's program in ITRA/TANA publications; sending materials about RMA's public outreach program to ITRA/TANA members; and spending association resources to make the RMA program a success.
Volunteer and staff leaders have touted the RMA campaign in numerous public appearances in front of thousands of tire industry professionals, according to a TANA/ITRA press release.
* Information services. The new association already has plans for eight publications, including TireRetailing Today; The Tire Retreading/Repair Journal; an Association Update Fax; the Commercial Tire Service Update; a Certified Tire Service Directory; a Membership Directory; a new SCRAP TIREFax; and a Government Relations Fax.
A new Web site also is being developed, and ITRA/TANA said all of these publications and services will be available to members before the July 1 merger date.
* Membership. The joint ITRA/TANA membership committee is finishing the dues structure and membership plan for the new organization. The plan, and the dues structure, will be approved and sent to members well in advance of July 1, along with ``a multitude of information about membership services,'' Mr. Disney said.
* Strategic planning. A joint ITRA/TANA committee is creating the association's first strategic plan, charting the goals for the new organization. The committee expects to have its work completed before the end of this summer.
* Internal operations. The merging of the internal operations of ITRA's Louisville office and TANA's in Reston has been completed, with the finances of the two organizations ready to be combined on July 1, the groups said.
``Publications, graphic design, fulfillment, training and many other services are being done in Louisville, while finance, administration, government affairs and trade shows are being executed from the Reston office,'' Mr. Kogel said. ``The staff is working well together, and everything is going smoothly. Essentially, we're one.''
* Governance. The joint Governance Committee, consisting of ITRA and TANA board members, already has finished the bylaws for the new organization.
The new document will be presented to the joint board of directors at its June meeting, then-once approved by the board-made available to the public and the members.
* Foundations. The new organization will continue having a foundation-a charity dedicated to raising money for training and education efforts. This separate 501(c)(3) corporation will expand on the current ITRA Foundation's offerings, and will be renamed to reflect the name of the new organization.
The foundation will be the source of funding for many of the industry's training and education efforts.
* Name. Mr. Disney noted that the new name of the organization will reflect the inclusive nature of the new association, representing all in the industry.