At least for now, it appears the Tire Industry Association's effort to create federal checkoff legislation has failed.
Once the Rubber Manufacturers Association (RMA) withdrew its support, citing recent federal court reversals of several existing checkoff programs as well as tire industry opposition to it, the proposed concept became moot.
Without the backing of the RMA, which represents the interests of the world's largest tire manufacturers, tire industry checkoff legislation had no chance of being passed by Congress.
So TIA rightly shelved the idea for the time being.
But this setback must not end TIA's efforts to improve the public's perception of tires nor its desire to raise the level of education and training within the industry.
Under the proposed checkoff legislation, tire manufacturers and dealers would have been required to collect a small fee on every tire sold, with the funds going toward education, training, public relations and other programs that would benefit the entire tire industry. An independent, industrywide committee would have overseen the fund and how the dollars were spent.
Despite the mixed reviews, the issues that compelled TIA to propose the checkoff legislation have not gone away.
Consumers still don't appreciate nor take care of their tires, and many consumers, as well as some retailers, continue to view them as a commodity. That's despite the fact tires are one of the most technologically sophisticated components on a vehicle.
Along with this, increased media and government scrutiny of tires and the industry continues, making the need for education and training ever more imperative.
We urge TIA to be relentless in pursing programs and raising funds to help address these broad, crucial industry issues.
At the same time, if it ever hopes to resurrect the idea of checkoff legislation, TIA must make a concerted effort to explain the concept to its tire dealer members and the industry at large.
One of the complaints voiced about the initial checkoff proposal was that many in the industry didn't understand how it would work and some felt TIA failed to fully explain it. As a result, opinions were formed based on incomplete information.
In an editorial last fall, Tire Business encouraged the industry to keep an open mind about the checkoff program and to try to work through all of the issues involved in trying to establish such legislation.
We favored the many benefits an industrywide education, training and public relations effort would have in improving the image and professionalism of the tire business. That hasn't changed, nor has the need.