With two weeks to go until their official merger date, the International Tire & Rubber Association and the Tire Association of North America have announced that their joint organization will be known as TIA - the Tire Industry Association.
During a June 17 press conference in Akron, TANA Executive Vice President Ross Kogel, flanked by TANA President Steve Disney and ITRA President Tom Raben, unveiled the new name and logo for the combined organization. The two associations officially are scheduled to merge July 1-an endeavor that Mr. Kogel said is going so well that ``internally, operationally and mentally we've already merged. I don't think there's anything that we can't do together.''
The new association name, which the incoming TIA board of directors agreed upon May 6, was chosen because of its inclusive nature and simplicity.
``Tire Industry Association represents all geographies by specifying none,'' TANA President Steve Disney said. ``Past names of our respective organizations have mentioned specific geographies and included the geographic terms `international,' `national' and `North America.' By not identifying any specific region, we are inclusive of all.''
Mr. Raben, noting that both TANA and ITRA have undergone a cumulative five name changes in the past six to seven years, said the groups wanted to brand the TIA name in the hopes of representing all the segments of the tire industry.
The groups chose a name that is easy to remember, Mr. Disney said, because ``people need to know who we are and what we're all about.'' Mr. Kogel added that TIA will focus on reaching out to consumers, and therefore the name needed to be identifiable to them as well.
Mr. Disney will become TIA's first president July 1 and will serve in that capacity until the Specialty Equipment Market Association /International Tire Expo (ITE) show takes place Nov. 5-8 in Las Vegas, at which time Mr. Raben will take over as TIA president.
The combined association-with a membership of approximately 4,800-will continue to have offices in Reston, Va., and Louisville, Ky. TIA has been incorporated in Louisville, where ITRA has been based, due to Kentucky laws that require a merged organization to be incorporated in that state, Mr. Raben explained.
Since the two groups first announced their merger plans at the 2001 SEMA/ITE show, both have undergone major changes in finances and personnel. Twenty-four ITRA/TANA staff members and consultants entered the merger period; today there are 17, according to Mr. Kogel.
The estimated legal and financial costs of the union are $70,000 in the period ending June 30 and $130,000 overall, he said. TIA's financial situation is sound, Mr. Disney said, though from an operations standpoint the association is under more duress. But, he said the group has no minimum membership requirements.
Dues for TIA will range from $100 to $3,000 depending on the size of the member business, Mr. Kogel said. For members experiencing a dues increase, TIA will allow those members during the first year to pay only half of the difference between the old dues rate and the new one.
Thus, as another cost of the merger, the new association will give back more than $725,000 to the members in the first year to ensure members do not drop their memberships, he explained.
According to the associations, TIA is facing the loss of 300 dues-paying members-companies and individuals that will not be renewing one of the two memberships they held in both organizations. Based on an average annual dues cost of $333 per member, Mr. Kogel estimated the loss in revenue could hit nearly $100,000.
When asked if the associations had lost any members due to the merger, Mr. Kogel said that an overwhelming majority on the TANA side voted 821-17 to approve the merger. He noted that those numbers are identical to the dues renewal rate.
On the retreading end, Mr. Raben said the retread portion of the industry will be represented even better by TIA as shown by the recent formation of a retread council.
``We see (retreading) membership and the interests of that membership not being diminished in any way by this merger,'' he said.
At Tire Business' June 20 press time, TIA's board of directors were meeting for the first time in Pinehurst, N.C. Topics slated for discussion at the meeting included:
* Implementing a structure for elections to the board of directors;
* A full review of current ITRA and TANA benefits, services and publications;
* The implementation of a membership plan;
* Approval of a long-term plan specifically for the tire and rubber recycling segment of the association;
* Training and education;
* Government relations; and
* Discussion of the industry's public advocacy efforts.
The group also plans to develop a long-term strategic plan that defines specific goals for the future of the tire industry's volunteer efforts. Those undoubtedly will include publicly promoting the products and services the tire industry sells, according to Mr. Disney, noting that ``without developing respect for our products and services, we cannot thrive.''
Mr. Kogel emphasized that the industry needs a combined association to step out and address negative publicity surrounding tires. ``The tire industry is getting an unfair rap in the media,'' he said. ``Tires are one of the safest and highest quality products, but consumers don't see it as such.''
Tire Business Editor Dave Zielasko contributed to this report.