Ross Kogel, executive vice president of the Tire Industry Association (TIA), will resign from his post on the expiration date of his contract, Feb. 1, 2003.
Mr. Kogel is leaving TIA to live in metropolitan Detroit near his family and to pursue a career at Tire Wholesalers Inc., a Troy, Mich.-based wholesaler that is owned by his father, Ross Kogel Sr. He said both he and his wife decided they would prefer to raise their 10-month-old son to know his grandparents and relatives, as well as for Mr. Kogel to not be traveling constantly.
``In southeast Michigan I have 20 family members, and the opportunity to spend more time with them-and to have Ross, my son, grow up knowing family life-is an opportunity that is impossible to pass,'' Mr. Kogel wrote in his resignation letter to TIA President Tom Raben.
Mr. Raben said he will miss Mr. Kogel, whom he considers a good friend.
``I'll miss his capable hand in (TIA's) operation, but on the other hand I'm very happy for him. He's making the decision that's in the best interest of himself and his family and his child. Who in the world could be-grudge that?
``On our side, TIA's going to go on. We're going to find a replacement for him. We've got a plan, and we're going after the plan.''
Reflecting on the job change, Mr. Kogel said he will miss the people he's worked with at TIA. ``I think this job has been a fantastic experience for me,'' he said. ``The one thing I regret about leaving is leaving the folks in the association specifically, the volunteers, Tom Raben, Steve Disney...the folks I've worked with so much, and we've become close friends. I'm going to miss that a lot.''
At Tire Wholesalers, Mr. Kogel will become director of marketing. He said the new position in some ways will pose a faster pace for him than TIA's top executive post because of the aggressive nature of the tire wholesaling business. He holds no illusions about his new job, which he expects to be challenging.
``I think that's true with any job position,'' he said. ``You always have to stretch yourself more. You always have to reach out more. I think this will be an increased challenge for me.''
When asked if assuming the director of marketing position at Tire Wholesalers means he eventually will take over his father's business, Mr. Kogel replied that he has just as much chance of rising to senior management as anyone else in the dealership.
But he added that he'll have to ``catch up to the people who have already made that business a whopping success over the past 30 years. I have to earn my keep just like everyone else.''
Ross Kogel Sr., owner of Tire Wholesalers, told Tire Business that his company is growing and always looking for ways to better serve its dealers and help them sell tires. He's excited about the ideas that his son can bring on lowering costs and doing business more efficiently.
``He thinks outside the box that we live in,'' Ross Sr. said of his son. ``Maybe we can use some of his expertise to open up our business even more.''
Echoing his son's sentiments, Ross Sr. affirmed that Ross Jr. will be ``just like anyone else'' among employees and won't necessarily be inheriting the business. ``Everything he does is going to be determined by his performance,'' he said.
Tire Wholesalers operates three distribution centers, in Troy, Cadillac and Southfield, Mich., and recently added 45,000 square feet to its Troy facility. Ross Sr. said that as of November, Tire Wholesalers sales were up 12 percent from the previous year.
Ross Kogel Jr.'s career with the association began in 1997 as a staff member of the National Tire Dealers & Retreaders Association. After the NTDRA was renamed the Tire Association of North America (TANA), he was appointed executive vice president of the group in 2000. Two years later he assumed the chief staff officer position for the International Tire & Rubber Association (ITRA) in preparation for the July 2002 merger of TANA and ITRA that formed TIA. In July 2002 he became the new organization's executive vice president.
A press release issued by TIA announcing Mr. Kogel's resignation listed a number of accomplishments by the staff and volunteers during his five-year tenure. They included the financial turnaround of then-NTDRA; the growth of the annual International Tire Expo, held in conjunction with the Specialty Equipment Market Association trade show in Las Vegas; the re-establishment of the association's government affairs department; and the successful lobbying effort related to criminal penalties in the TREAD Act.
Under Mr. Kogel's guidance, TANA saw two of its most financially successful years in 2000 and 2001. He also helped establish a new industry foundation that has raised more than $800,000 to date, and he oversaw the successful negotiation of the ITRA/TANA merger-a subject that, at least informally, had been discussed for decades. More recently, Mr. Kogel was involved in establishing TIA's ``open book'' policy for public review of its finances.
In his letter of resignation to Mr. Raben, Mr. Kogel noted that in 1997 he became part of a staff team that turned around a nearly insolvent NTDRA ``back to a solid financial standing,'' and ran a balanced budget every year from 1997 to 2001.
In 2000, TANA realized a 27-percent gain in net assets, turning a $187,337 operating profit. The following year, one of TANA's most successful ever, the group saw a $739,838 profit-``a whopping 84-percent gain in net assets in one year,'' he pointed out in his letter.
During the first six months of TIA's fledgling existence, Mr. Kogel said the organization has planned two new training initiatives, scheduled three major conferences and trade shows, finalized membership and strategic plans, streamlined internal operations and joined the Rubber Manufacturers Association's ``National Tire Safety Week'' efforts.
Mr. Raben said he has appointed Immediate Past President Steve Disney, Incoming President Larry Morgan, Vice President Dick Gust, Secretary Bob Malerba and Assistant Treasurer Terry Westhafer to serve with him on a search committee, and that the new executive vice president will be approved and hired by TIA's executive committee. That committee consists of Messrs. Morgan, Raben, Gust, Malerba and Westhafer, as well as Tom Wright, Paul Hyatt, Randy Drake and Jimmy Crews.
TIA will review both internal and external candidates in the search, and said it is considering using a professional services firm to assist in the search for the new chief staff executive.
Mr. Raben said the association hasn't made a decision yet on an interim executive, nor have any names been dropped as to who should succeed Mr. Kogel. He declined to comment on the salary range TIA will offer for the position.
TIA will be looking at all possible candidates and has no timetable on hiring Mr. Kogel's replacement, he added.
``We're starting right away. We're more interested in finding the right person than finding a person right away,'' he said. ``Our association has such a strong volunteer base, and I think the input of the volunteers are what makes us vital, and that's still here. We're going to focus on our strategic plan.... Our association is going to live up to every expectation we ever had from it.''
The group said it is looking for someone who is experienced in association or business management with a focus on event management, advocacy, financial and staff development skills. The person selected also will be expected to help carry out TIA's newly released strategic plan, a copy of which is available upon request.
Mr. Raben said applicants' names will be confidential.
Applicants should mail their resume, cover letter and references to the search committee in care of TIA at 11921 Freedom Dr., Suite 550, Reston, Va., 20190. The group is only accepting written inquiries.