Changes are coming to the Tire Industry Association now that it's under new leadership.
Roy Littlefield, TIA's new executive vice president, has moved the association's offices to Bowie, Md., from Reston, Va.-a distance of almost 55 miles-in a cost-cutting move and has hired a new director of sales to help develop the group's membership.
TIA has some significant budget challenges to address, Mr. Littlefield said in an interview during the World Tire Expo, March 26-29 in Louisville. ``We've got to tighten our belt like our members do,'' he said.
As such, he is looking to review the association's accounting system and has already brought in a new attorney on a retainer, which should provide a tremendous reduction in legal costs, he said.
``We hope the combination of reducing expenses and bringing in new money will have a significant impact on the budget,'' he said.
The move to Bowie will provide TIA with a ``significant reduction'' in rent, Mr. Littlefield said.
TIA's new office is located in the same building Mr. Littlefield occupied as executive director of the Service Station Dealers of America and Allied Trades (SSDA/AT) and the Washington, Maryland, Delaware Service Station and Automotive Repair Association (WMDA), his previous positions before becoming TIA's executive vice president Feb. 14.
Currently the office has three employees-Mr. Littlefield, Wilson Beach, who joined the association as director of sales March 24, and Lisa Garvey, Mr. Littlefield's executive assistant.
TIA will phase out the Reston office over the next three months, and the employees there will move to the Bowie office.
The new office is located at 1532 Pointer Ridge Place, Suite E, Bowie, Md. 20716-1883. The office's new phone number is (301) 430-7280, while the toll-free number, (800) 876-8372, remains the same.
In moving the offices, Mr. Littlefield said he hopes there will not be a reduction in staff.
``We clearly don't want the staff to be concerned or begin to cut an excellent staff,'' Mr. Littlefield said. ``We want to look at expenses, see where to reduce them and see where we can enhance our programs. That's our goals first.''
Along with the move to Bowie, TIA is upgrading and modifying its Louisville training facility to reflect the new passenger and light truck tire training program the association expects to announce within the next few months.
This program potentially could be bigger than the association's successful Commercial Tire Service Training and Certification Program, Mr. Littlefield said.
In hiring Mr. Beach-who served as director of membership for the SSDA/AT and WMDA and is a 43-year service station industry veteran-TIA looks to develop a hard-hitting membership campaign.
``Membership recruitment and retention are a high priority,'' Mr. Littlefield said. ``We can't keep going down in numbers.''
Asked about the current membership total, he said he wasn't sure what the correct count was. ``The membership numbers depend on who you talk to,'' he said. ``We need to clean up the files. We'll have it pinned down by July 1.''
Following the merger last July of the former Tire Association of North America and the International Tire & Rubber Association to create TIA, the group reported a combined membership of about 4,800.