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"Tire Safety Starts Here'

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LAS VEGAS—”Tire Safety Starts Here” will be the Tire Industry Association's new calling card, reflecting the association's increasing emphasis on education and consumer outreach, TIA President Randy Groh announced at the group's honors ceremony in Las Vegas Oct. 29.

Among initiatives TIA is planning in the coming year under this new identity will be a series of consumer tire safety videos—one per quarter, Mr. Groh said. This will underscore the association's desire to be considered the industry's “watchdog” for tire safety.

TIA has been campaigning for some time to become the adminstrator of the consumer education portion of the coming tire fuel-efficiency regulations, but Mr. Groh said the association will start moving on a series of consumer information messages on its own while the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration continues to weigh its options regarding the regulation.

Among the topics being considered are tire repair, tire pressure monitoring systems (TPMS), inflation, rotation, etc. The videos, to be available to members for posting on their websites as well as on YouTube for consumers, will be presented as: “Tire Safety Starts with...” and then the topic, according to Kevin Rohlwing, TIA's senior vice president of training.

The trade group also intends to take the lead on drafting language on tire aging and set best practices on the issue, Mr. Groh said, in part because the Rubber Manufacturers Association (RMA) has thus far opted not to do so and in part to get ahead of possible legislation that would set tire age limits arbitrarily.

“We propose...coming up with standardized guidelines on how the tire industry and tire dealers should handle the tire-aging situation,” Mr. Groh said at TIA's annual industry press conference on Oct. 31.

“(TIA will) come up with something that we can point to in the industry that should be able to circumvent any type of legislation in that arena,” he continued. “A standard guideline, if you will, across the industry that can help ensure the safety of the motoring public.”

TIA will work with the RMA on this issue, he added.

Regarding the consumer videos, Mr. Rohlwing said it's TIA's goal to create an “effective library of (safety) messages we can get out to the motoring public.”

At the group's annual meeting on Oct. 29 in Las Vegas, members passed resolutions supporting efforts to address the anti-competitive nature of the credit card swipe fee and seeking the repeal of the estate tax.

The credit card fee resolution opposes a proposed settlement of a class-action lawsuit against Visa and MasterCard credit cards and their issuing banks, TIA said, which gives merchants a limited sight to surcharge consumers and does not reduce swipe fees long term.

TIA, noting that intercharge fees have tripled since 2001 and cost retailers and consumers about $48 billion last year, said it supports the efforts of the Merchants Payment Coalition to seek a more competitive and transparent credit card system.

Specifically, TIA's resolution supports coalition's efforts to seek federal legislation to address the issue and to seek a more equitable settlement.

More information is available at www.unfaircreditcardfees.com, TIA said.

Regarding the estate tax, TIA supports “all federal legislation supporting the full and permanent repeal of the estate tax, or if necessary, legislation to extend the current law with a 35-percent top rate and $5 million exemption.”

In passing this resolution, TIA noted that:

c In “numerous national polls” small business owners said this issue was their top legislative concern;

c Without Congressional action, the top estate tax rate will rise to 55 percent with a $1 million exemption and no spousal transfer after 2012;

c Much of the value of family-owned businesses is tied to non-liquid assets such as land, building and equipment; and

c Planning costs associated with the estate tax are a drain on business resources.

During the meeting the association also announced three recipients of the Michelin/TIA Scholarship Award, given annually to either part-time employees or to dependent children of full-time employees of TIA member tire dealers who are pursuing a post-secondary education. (See story on page 15.)

On the training front, TIA is scheduling Automotive Tire Service certified instructor course sessions for 16 cities next year and said it expects to release the farm tire service training program in first quarter.

The dates and locations are: February, St. Louis and Miami; March, Los Angeles and Phoenix; April, Boston and Toledo, Ohio; May, Rochester, N.Y., and Pittsburgh; June, Milwaukee and Seattle; September, Tampa, Fla., and Oklahoma City; October, Charlotte, N.C., and Minneapolis; and November, Jacksonville, Fla., and Houston.

TIA also welcomed six new or returning board members: Michael Baggett, Yokohama Tire Corp.; Dick Gust, Liberty Tire Recycling, Chicago; David Martin, American Tire Distributors Inc., Huntersville, N.C.; James Melvin Jr., Melvin's Tire Pros & Auto Service Centers, North Kingstown, R.I.; Glen Nicholson, TBC Retail Group, Juno Beach, Fla.; and Mike Wolfe, Southeastern Wholesale Tire, Raleigh, N.C.

Attendance at the SEMA Show topped 135,000 this year, according to preliminary figures from TIA. Among the attendees were 60,000 buyers and 3,000 members of the media, TIA said. Attendance at the 2011 SEMA Show was about 132,000, SEMA said earlier this year.

TIA did not at this time have attendance figures specific to the Global Tire Expo (GTE) portion of the show, which occupied the ground floor of the South Hall at the LVCC.
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