When Steve Disney steps down in November as president of the Tire Industry Association, he expects to leave to his successor, Tom Raben, a financially sound, dynamic organization with a clear agenda for future growth.
Throughout most of 2002-even when TIA was still two organizations, the Tire Association of North America (TANA) and the International Tire & Rubber Association (ITRA)-Mr. Disney and his staff worked on a comprehensive strategic plan for TIA. That included the participation of the board of directors, Mr. Disney said during an Oct. 14 phone interview with Tire Business from his office in Louisville, where his dealership, Disney Tire, has its headquarters.
Mr. Disney and other TIA officials will present the final plan to the board at the Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA)/ International Tire Expo (ITE) trade shows in Las Vegas, Nov. 5-8.
``We will describe and outline the overview of what we want the association to be and do over a mid- to long-range period,'' he said. ``We will back this up with specific goals, activities and timelines.''
If the plan gains support from the board of directors and the industry-as Mr. Disney fully expects it to do-TIA will have a specific plan for its future direction and growth. And that's something of an innovation compared with the way things were previously done.
``Before this, frequently the future plans were the agenda of the moment, depending on whomever the leaders were at the time,'' Mr. Disney said. ``We're replacing this with a detailed, long-range strategic plan to guide the organization.''
The plan, he added, is oriented toward but not limited to four main areas: member services, public relations, government affairs and training and education.
``Most of our activities can be put into one of these areas,'' he said. ``We're enthused about the prospects of the tire industry supporting this effort.''
A new spirit
The official formation of TIA July 1, and the activities leading up to it, have created a new spirit and new synergies within the organization without anything much in the way of growing pains, Mr. Disney said.
``From the standpoint of the board, I feel that we are bringing more reserves into the organization,'' he said. That was particularly evident, he added, during the Pinehurst, Ga., planning meeting for the ITE in June: ``We really felt the difference of having that many more minds in the room.''
Similarly, the TIA board meeting in Las Vegas will be quite different from TANA board meetings, according to Mr. Disney. ``Before with TANA, it was primarily a review-type meeting,'' he said. ``This time, we have an agenda chock-full of projects. It will be much more content-filled.''
Without going into exact detail, Mr. Disney named some major new training initiatives-some of which may be ready for unveiling at the ITE-as topics for board and committee action. He also mentioned government affairs issues such as responses to the Transportation Recall Efficiency, Accountability and Documentation (TREAD) Act regulations and strategy for federal highway reauthorization funding next year.
``In our opinion, these represent activities that a healthy trade association needs to do for its industry,'' he said. ``The market is right for them, the time is right for them, and we believe the industry will benefit from them.''
On solid ground
While he did not go into detail-saying that TIA Executive Vice President Ross Kogel and other staffers had more information than he did-Mr. Disney described TIA's financial situation as ``very solid.''
``We're looking forward to next year, when we'll have absorbed the old dues structure,'' he said. ``And also TIA will host its first Louisville trade show next year-don't forget that.''
For many years, Louisville was home to the annual convention/trade show of the ITRA and its predecessor, the American Retreaders Association.
Mr. Disney described the creation of one trade association from two as remarkably smooth. ``Areas we might have worried about have been free of concern,'' he said. ``The goodwill of participants to get the job done has overcome any parochial concerns.''
For the past several years-at least since being elected president of the Kentucky Tire Dealers & Retreaders Association in 1996-Mr. Disney's path has been an upward trajectory through the ranks of tire industry representation. He said he looks forward to the lesser workload of being TIA past president in the coming year because it will allow him to make the rounds of the branch operations of Disney Tire, of which he is president, and pay more attention to his customers.
Disney Tire has five distribution centers-the main operation in Louisville, plus branches in Indianapolis and Evansville, Ind., and Nashville and Knoxville, Tenn.
``We're looking at expansion opportunities,'' Mr. Disney said. ``There are none I can discuss right now, but the possibility clearly exists.'' He also is president of SURE Tire Co., a shareholder-owned, private brand tire company founded last year, which markets the Summit, Remington and Heritage tire brands and has 28 distributors nationwide.
Besides seeing more to his business, Mr. Disney also plans to spend more time with his children-Clark, 17, and Christine, 12. ``I have one child preparing for college next year and another getting ready to go to high school,'' he said. ``From a personal standpoint, focusing on their transitions will be a big thing for me next year.''