Current Issue
Published on October 27, 2003

Checkoff program must happen

It's encouraging to hear that the Tire Industry Association and the Rubber Manufacturers Association continue to meet on the idea of trying to create checkoff legislation through Congress to raise money for programs that support the entire tire industry.

If there is any effort that should get a thorough hearing, it's this one.

The tire industry needs what a checkoff program can offer. That is, the mechanism to raise the monies necessary to fund important programs such as a national advertising and public relations campaign touting the industry's goods and services.

And the tire industry must do something to improve its image not only with consumers, but also with members of Congress and even those involved in the business itself.

The fact is, tires are technological marvels that too few people value. As a result, tires often are sold and priced as a commodity. For the industry to get healthy, this attitude must change.

But before asking Congress to establish checkoff legislation for the tire industry, all parties must come to an agreement on the need for it and what exactly it will do.

Which is why the meetings between TIA and the RMA are so crucial. The industry can't go to Congress with several agendas and expect its proposal to be approved. It must be united on the issue.

Under a checkoff program, tire dealers would collect a fee-such as 50 cents on every tire sold-that would, in this case, generate between $130 million and $140 million a year. An independent, industrywide committee would be established to oversee the fund and how the dollars are spent. The committee also would develop ideas about how to use the money.

In similar programs set up by Congress in other industries, funds have been spent on such things as radio, TV and print advertising campaigns, educational programs, research and development and training.

Oftentimes ideas that sound good, like this one does, get stymied once the concerns of different segments of the tire industry get aired.

But in this case, it appears everyone is keeping an open mind and working through the many issues involved in trying to agree on what a tire industry checkoff program should be.

We know little about the negotiations going on between RMA and TIA. But TIA Executive Vice President Roy Littlefield confirmed that talks with the RMA's executive committee are continuing.

We encourage those involved to stay focused on the opportunities the checkoff program can provide for the common good. In many ways, this effort could change the course of the tire industry forever by raising the profile of tires in the consumers' eyes.


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