The Tire Industry Association (TIA) and the Rubber Manufacturers Association (RMA) are joining forces to advance a common policy agenda for the tire industry.
The two organizations will address concerns arising from safety and maintenance issues and the Transportation Recall Enhancement, Accountability and Documentation (TREAD) Act. Those concerns have prompted a five-point, cooperative agenda on which the associations have agreed to work together:
* Compliance with the TREAD Act;
* Rolling resistance;
* Tire service life;
* Tire pressure monitoring system (TPMS) training; and
* Annual motor vehicle inspections.
``We've got a renewed commitment to dialogue,'' said Donald Shea, president and CEO of the RMA, during a joint Nov. 3 press conference at the Specialty Equipment Market Association trade show in Las Vegas with leaders of the two groups. ``If you have dialogue, you have a better opportunity to forge an agreement.''
``Hopefully, by combining forces we can do more for the betterment of our industry,'' said TIA President Dick Gust.
The associations cited TPMS training and legislation enacted by California that would require tire makers to offer replacement tires with rolling resistance equal to or better than original equipment tires.
Regarding TPMS, Roy Littlefield, TIA executive vice president, and Mr. Shea both said the proposed rule that TPMS should warn consumers when tire inflation falls to 25 percent below the vehicle manufacturer's recommended pressure is a concern to both groups. The associations have maintained that such a drop in pressure may be insufficient to carry a fully loaded vehicle.
``The number is irrelevant without a point of reference,'' Mr. Shea said. ``(The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) is ignoring standards for no reason.''
Mr. Shea noted that these five points are a start for the associations, both of which believe they are more likely to succeed in pushing the industry's agenda through cooperation, and they plan to have ongoing dialogue on other issues as well. Mr. Littlefield said the two groups are familiar with each other's strengths and recognize that the industry ``must be profit driven at every level,'' including the public policy level.
``We represent different constituencies, and there will be disagreements,'' Mr. Gust said. ``We hope to create dialogue to reduce the number of disagreements and move forward.''
Following the Las Vegas press conference, Mr. Gust told Tire Business that the two groups are not combining government relations efforts but are sharing information and discussing their positions on issues before announcing those positions formally to the industry. TIA will take the same position as the RMA only when it makes sense for its individual members to do so, Mr. Gust said.
Separately, TIA disclosed it moved into the black for the most recent fiscal year, reporting a $640,000 profit vs. a $728,000 loss, as membership grew by 1,800, according to outgoing TIA President Larry Morgan. Contributing to the association's revenue was the sale of 2,400 Automotive Tire Service programs, he told those attending the association's Hall of Fame breakfast Nov. 2.
Mr. Morgan also urged TIA members to get involved in politics by supporting the group's TirePac political action committee and/or by working together with their state associations to monitor state governments and the effect of legislation on their businesses locally.
In his remarks to the breakfast meeting, Mr. Gust said TIA has set a goal of gaining 1,000 new members during his year as association president.
Joseph ``Bud'' Mullaney of Mullaney Tire Service Inc. in Matawan, N.J., was named TIA's dealer member of the year for his efforts heading up the membership committee and his 24 years of service with TIA and its predecessor organizations. Sandra Martinez was named TIA employee of the year for her administrative efforts during the merger of the Tire Association of North America and International Tire & Rubber Association that formed TIA.
Tire Business Staff Reporter Bruce Davis contributed to this report.