The days when tire dealers and retreaders joined their national associations just to support their industry are long gone.
They don't have the time, money or patience today for anything that doesn't bring in a solid return and provide something of value.
That's why now is a good time to check out what the Tire Industry Association (TIA) can provide and why membership in the organization could make sense.
TIA has regained its financial footing and has been adding what it describes as ``meaningful'' programs to its list of member benefits.
But the successor organization to the former National Tire Dealers & Retreaders Association and American Retreaders Association still has a problem.
A lot of tire dealers and retreaders don't know what TIA is all about and that it is the national trade association for them. And even if they do, many don't have an appreciation for what the organization can offer them.
So it's little wonder many haven't joined.
Admittedly, TIA isn't strictly a tire dealer/retreader organization anymore. It now counts suppliers and tire manufacturers as members. But the bulk of its membership remains dealers and retreaders and that's the focus of the programs it provides.
In righting the association, TIA Executive Vice President Roy Littlefield and the group's board members have been developing programs that they maintain address dealers' needs while shedding those that don't. That has made membership in TIA more valuable.
These programs are not necessarily tire related, Mr. Littlefield said, but address parts of the dealers' business where the association might be able to save them money or provide them an option for comparison.
They include workers' compensation insurance, garage keepers' liability insurance, product liability insurance for retreaders and a credit card program. TIA also is looking at ways of offering a nationwide health insurance plan.
This is in addition to TIA's lobbying efforts on Capitol Hill and the successful Automotive Training Service and Commercial Tire Service training programs that so far have trained and certified more than 33,000 tire technicians.
If anything, TIA must do a better job selling itself and getting the word out about its benefits. The fact that it's looking to hire two employees whose jobs will be to address this is a step in the right direction. But even more will need to be done to reach the entire industry.
Tire dealers shouldn't wait until these new hires come on board to check out what TIA has to offer.
As business gets tougher and costs increase in this recessionary economy, dealers should be proactive about any opportunities that can help them cut expenses, improve efficiency and generate revenue.