The Tire Industry Association (TIA) is going to have a tough time replacing Ross Kogel when he steps down as the group's executive vice president in February.
Mr. Kogel, while only 30, has done an excellent job in his short time as the top paid executive of the association that was formed last July by the merger of the Tire Association of North America (TANA) and the International Tire & Rubber Association (ITRA).
In his two-year tenure as executive vice president of TANA and then of TIA, Mr. Kogel proved adept at handling the diverse personalities and issues that go along with making a large, member-driven organization run smoothly.
In working with those groups, he made a point of not letting his ego get in the way of his decision making and instead focused all of his efforts and energies on the issues and ideas that would make TANA and TIA the best organizations possible.
This was never more evident than during the merger process between TANA and ITRA, which came together remarkably well.
While much credit must go to both associations' volunteer leaders, who set aside personal agendas for the sake of the new organization, Mr. Kogel also deserves praise for his ability to work effectively with the directors and committee members of both groups.
This is all the more impressive considering it's Mr. Kogel's first job after graduate school. During his five years with TANA, which he joined as research manager in 1997, he was involved in the financial turnaround of the association and the growth of the International Tire Expo in Las Vegas.
On becoming executive vice president three years later, he re-established the association's government affairs department, just as the tire industry came under fire following the Firestone tire recall in 2000.
Under his watch, TANA posted its two most successful years financially, in 2000 and 2001, and established an industry foundation that to date has raised more than $800,000. Also during his tenure, the association provided unprecedented access to its financial records-an ``open books policy'' unheard of under previous administrations-and it developed its first-ever strategic plan.
While Mr. Kogel's resignation must have come as a shock to TIA's directors, his reason for leaving isn't.
As a first-time father, he said his priorities have changed and he wanted to spend more time with family, a refreshing position in this day and age of corporate ladder climbing. So he's moving from Washington to southeast Michigan, where 20 relatives live, and plans to work at his father's wholesale tire business.
For TIA, it's back to the drawing board as it begins its search for a new top executive. Finding someone with Mr. Kogel's enthusiasm, ideas, energy, candor and lack of pretense won't be easy.