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Published on January 17, 2005

Give checkoff/round 2 a chance

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Opinion

AKRON (Jan. 17, 2005) — It would be easy for the Tire Industry Association (TIA) to have dropped the concept of establishing a checkoff program for the tire industry.


After all, the idea met with decidedly mixed reviews since surfacing nearly two years ago, and it failed to secure the backing of one of the industry's most important constituents, the Rubber Manufacturers Association, which represents the nation's tire makers.


But the need for a funding mechanism to finance tire programs such as a national consumer education campaign, industry personnel training and research and development remains keen.


And the only logical way to raise the millions of dollars needed to fund industry initiatives and begin to change the public's mostly negative perceptions and poor understanding of tires is through something as all-encompassing as a checkoff program.


That's why it's important TIA plans to continue the push for its creation and why the entire tire industry should keep an open mind when considering the idea once again.


Tire industry checkoff legislation—which TIA now is calling Tire Initiative for Research, Education and Safety (TIRES)—must be established by Congress and needs industry approval through a referendum.


Under it, tire makers and dealers would collect a small fee on every tire sold, with the funds going to support programs benefiting the industry.


The concept foundered the first time around in part because TIA admittedly failed to communicate effectively how the program would work and to allay industry concerns. As a result, TIA believes many opinions were formed based on incomplete or inaccurate information.


This time, TIA aims to involve the entire tire community in developing the framework of the program so TIRES “truly reflects the wants and desires of the industry,” TIA President Dick Gust recently said.


If the TIRES initiative is to move forward, this is the only way it will happen.


Hot vehicles need hot tires


The estimated 7,000 journalists attending the press days at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit came to examine, ogle and wax eloquent about the latest hot cars, trucks and concept vehicles.


But most probably paid scant attention to the only things that keep them on the road: tires.


As we in the tire industry know, those vehicles are only as good as the tires on which they're riding. It's the tires that provide the grip and performance that's generated by the vehicle itself.


Don't forget, auto journalists, you need high-performance pneumatic tires to blast that Ferrari Superamerica from zero to 60 in under five seconds.


Without them, it's going nowhere.

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