A California tire dealer has teamed up with the founder of a digital document management firm to create Tire Recall Registry Inc. (TRR), a company designed to provide tire dealers and consumers with electronic tire registration that fulfills the letter of federal law.
TRR is the brainchild of Lori Neville-a 22-year veteran of tire retailing with her own tire and auto parts store, AutoTrixx in Canoga Park, Calif.-and Paul Stansen, an attorney who since 2000 has run his own digital document management company, paperlessUSA Inc. Mr. Stansen claims his business has proved successful in providing secure, Web-based information management for varied clients, especially law firms. Ms. Neville had the idea that its techniques would be useful in helping tire dealers comply with the federal requirement to register every tire sold in the U.S., the partners said.
Ms. Neville, a longtime member of American Tire Distributors (ATD) Inc., approached the wholesaler about her new company, and in January ATD agreed to inform its member dealers and distributors about TRR.
ATD agreed to this partly because of Ms. Neville's good standing with them and partly because of concerns that states could develop regulations mandating electronic tire registrations, according to Richard P. Johnson, CEO of Charlotte, N.C.-based ATD.
``Thinking about how the way things happen in California, it seems logical that sometime the dealers would be responsible for capturing tire registrations electronically,'' Mr. Johnson told Tire Business. ATD has no financial or management interest in TRR, he added.
TRR's Web site carries a banner stating ATD endorses the concept.
Some 300 to 400 ATD members to date have signed on with TRR, according to Mr. Stansen. Also, the company plans to hold talks soon with every major auto and tire manufacturer to see if they will endorse the service.
According to Mr. Stansen, TRR will transmit all electronically collected registration data-consumer, tire and dealer information-to tire manufacturers, both in the standard, federally mandated postcard form and in digital form. All such data will remain confidential, Ms. Neville and Mr. Stansen said.
The company also will provide dealers with monthly compliance reports and consumers with printed certificates of tire registration-something consumers never have received before, Mr. Stansen said.
Registration is a simple process accomplished through the TRR Web site. TRR charges tire dealers 99 cents per tire for the service, in a prepaid account charged to their credit cards. When account balances reach $40 or less, dealers receive an e-mail reminder to replenish them. Dealers may then seek reimbursement of the fees by charging consumers, though some dealers have told Mr. Stansen they will pick up part of that expense.
TRR is only the second private tire registration firm in the U.S. The first, Akron-based CIMS Inc., has provided registration cards and an information clearinghouse for independent tire dealers for some 35 years. In 2004, the company estimated that roughly 1,200 independent tire dealers representing 15,000 retail outlets used the CIMS All-Brand Tire Registration System.
However, when the Rubber Manufacturers Association petitioned the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) for electronic tire registration in 2003, CIMS argued against it, saying it would create one more layer of burden for tire dealers. That August, NHTSA ruled that electronic registration could supplement but not replace the postcards.
A NHTSA spokesman told Tire Business that it would require a major legal interpretation of the statute to determine whether it allows consumers to be charged for basic tire registration services, but the law is silent on charging for supplemental registration.