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Published on August 20, 2002

Morgan would make a fine tire ambassador

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Opinion

Random thoughts on a sunny summer afternoon.


Some tire dealers may have been silently pleased to see Larry Morgan step down from the helm of Morgan Tire & Auto Inc.


And, why not? He was a tough competitor in the marketplace and had been the driving force behind what is arguably one of the largest and most successful tire dealership chains in North America.


But all tire dealers and tire retailers should be thrilled to hear of his plans to stay involved in the business through the Tire Industry Association and by his desire to become an ambassador for the industry.


Those of us close to this business know that tires and the tire industry get an unwarranted bad rap in the national media and with consumers in general.


And it's no secret that prices of tires haven't risen nearly at the rate of other products over the years. While tires are one of the most technologically advanced products made, they are, simply put, under appreciated.


Mr. Morgan, interviewed by Managing Editor Sigmund Mikolajczyk in the last issue of Tire Business, said he wants to tell consumers “how proud we are of what we do” and begin to change those perceptions.


He said if he can find a way “to sell our products for what they're worth so that we can make a better return…I will have accomplished a lot.”


Amen to that, but he'll need the help of every tire dealer and tire company to make it happen.


***


Michelin North America Inc.'s decision to voluntarily replace four sizes of Phantom A/P passenger and light truck tires shows the power the Transportation, Recall Efficiency, Accountability and Documentation (TREAD) Act is having on tire makers.


Even though Michelin said the tires, which it makes for Arizona's Discount Tire Co., weren't defective and the National Highway Safety Administration hasn't received any complaints about them, it decided to replace the 30,000 or so still in service anyway as a precautionary measure. It initiated the campaign after discovering that some of the tires were coming out of service because of extreme use problems.


Rather than blame the problem on consumer abuse, Michelin took a pro-active approach and got the tires off the road, setting a fine example for other companies to follow.


***


Few would have thought Bridgestone/Firestone would bounce back so quickly after its recent recall and replacement travails.


But thanks to a lot of hard work and the loyalty of its independent tire dealer network the company recently reported operating income of $54 million for the first half of this year.


While its recovery is far from complete, BFS's management and employees should take a few moments to savor this accomplishment, before getting back to work.



Mr. Zielasko is editor and publisher of Tire Business. He can be reached by e-mail at dzielasko@crain.com.

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