When Sen. Thomas McIntyre lost his bid for re-election in 1978, Roy Littlefield needed to find a new job by that January.
Mr. Littlefield, who had served on Sen. McIntyre's staff after earning his doctorate in law, American history, politics and European intellectual history, began looking in the classifieds. Though he first looked at positions in the logging industry-following the footsteps of his father, who was an active union worker in the family's small New Hampshire town-Mr. Littlefield joined the National Tire Dealers & Retreaders Association in 1979.
That move started his 24-year career in the tire industry. His latest move was to the Tire Industry Association, where Mr. Littlefield took over as executive vice president Feb. 14.
He said his career has been marked by the same values his father held as a union member.
``It was kind of in my blood to fight for the little guy,'' he said.
Mr. Littlefield replaced Ross Kogel, who announced in December that he accepted a position at Tire Wholesalers Inc. in Troy, Mich., which is owned by his father, Ross Kogel Sr. Mr. Kogel resigned his post at TIA effective Feb. 1, when his contract expired.
Tom Raben, president of Reston-based TIA, said Mr. Littlefield's resume stood out from the more than 70 the association received.
``We looked at a lot of resumes, and I'd say Roy was just an overwhelming choice for the job,'' he said.
Mr. Littlefield worked as the director of government affairs for the former NTDRA from 1979 until 1984.
During that time, he worked on several legislative efforts, including a tax credit for rubber lost in the retreading process.
In 1984, he joined the American Retreaders Association, the predecessor of the International Tire & Rubber Association, as part-time director of government affairs. That year, he also became the executive director of the Washington/Maryland Service Station and Automotive Repair Association.
In 1994, he assumed management of the Service Station Dealers of America and Allied Trades. Also, since the merger of the Tire Association of North America and ITRA last year, Mr. Littlefield had been working as a lobbyist for the newly created TIA.
Mr. Littlefield had resigned his previous posts for his new job at TIA.
``It seemed like a unique opportunity at the right time in a challenging industry,'' Mr. Littlefield said. ``Sometimes in life you're just in the right place at the right time, and maybe that's what happened to me. I just appreciate the opportunity.''
Mr. Littlefield said he planned to continue TIA's strategic plan, unveiled last fall. He also said several governmental issues such as the TREAD Act will take precedence. He expects to maintain training programs and TIA's schedule of expos.
Expanding membership programs and improving TIA's publications also are on his to-do list, according to Mr. Littlefield.
While the merger last year went successfully and TIA was headed in the right direction under Mr. Kogel's leadership, Mr. Littlefield said the association needs to keep its mission in sight.
``I think the association is at a crucial point,'' he said.
Mr. Raben said Mr. Littlefield's experience in both government affairs and association management should prove useful.
``He's so grounded in what's going on, and he is a solid individual, a real classy guy,'' he said.