LAS VEGASThe Tire Industry Association (TIA) will continue its push in the coming year to become the go-to source for tire safety information.
That was the message reaffirmed by TIA's 2013-14 President Ken Brown, who took the president's gavel during the recent SEMA Show/ Global Tire ExpoPowered by TIA in Las Vegas.
Among the priorities Mr. Brown cited in his address and in later conversations with Tire Business are: expand TIA's training program to include industrial tires; continue to translate TIA's existing training literature and videos into more languages to spread TIA's message beyond North America; and continue to be a leader in training and in government affairs.
On the consumer information front, Our goal is to create a Web portal for consumers looking for tire safety information to help make educated decisions regarding tire purchases, Mr. Brown said during TIA's annual press conference at the SEMA Show.
To that end, TIA is posting its Tire Safety Starts... series of videos on YouTube and via its website, according to Kevin Rohlwing, TIA senior vice president of training, including a 5-minute edited version of its recently completed winter tire series.
TIA also recently added a section to its website that contains the technical bulletins for tire service life from various tire and vehicle manufacturers.
The association requested the bulletins from the various companies and from the Rubber Manufacturers Association, which assisted TIA by gathering bulletins from their members and other tire companies, TIA said.
So far TIA has received statements from Bridgestone Americas, Continental Tire Americas L.L.C., Cooper Tire & Rubber Co., Falken Tire Corp., Goodyear, Hankook Tire America Corp., Kumho U.S.A. Inc., Michelin North America Inc., Pirelli Tire North America Inc., Apollo Vredestein Tires Inc. and Yoko-hama Tire Corp.
General Motors Co. provided tire service life bulletins for its Chevrolet, GMC, Buick and Cadillac models, but Chrysler Group L.L.C. said it was unable to provide any information.
In 2014, TIA plans to relaunch its website with a separate consumer education section that will include the tire service life bulletins.
Mr. Brown also said TIA added more than 1,000 new members in the past year.
On the government affairs front, the tire industry is facing one of the most challenging years in recent history, according to Roy Littlefield, executive vice president, because of a range of issues that could affect tire dealers directly and indirectly.
Among the issues that bear watching are the federal transportation budget, Mr. Littlefield said, where the national highway fund is nearly broke and needs fixing.
In addition, he said, there are bills on the national level being discussed that would raise the tax on fuel as much as $2 a gallon and/or possibly re-introduce federal excise taxes on new tires and/or tread rubber; that would reinstate all or part of the federal estate tax; and that would raise the federal minimum wage; as well as state bills pending on used tires and tire repair.
During TIA's annual meeting on Nov. 4, the membership passed two resolutionsone calling for marketplace fairness and one for flexibility in determing comp time.
The marketplace fairness resolution expresses TIA's support for Senate Bill 743, which would simplify, through a streamlined sales tax system, the nation's sales tax laws by establishing one uniform system to administer and collect sales tax in states with a sales tax, thereby creating a more level playing field between online and bricks-and-mortar businesses.
The comp time resolution is in support of House Bill 1406, the Working Families Flexibility Act of 2013, which would amend the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 to allow employers to offer private-sector employees the choice of paid time off in lieu of cash wages for overtime hours worked.
During the SEMA Show, TIA also:
c Endorsed Net Driven as its preferred provider of websites and digital marketing solutions.
TIA said it chose to endorse a digital marketing company at this time because of data that show 70 percent of consumers are researching tire purchases before buying offline.
We encourage all of our dealer members who aren't satisfied with their presence on the Web to see how Net Driven can help grow their bottom line, Mr. Littlefield said.
Founded in 2007, Scranton, Pa.-based Net Driven claims to have more than 5,000 points of sale in the U.S. and Canada using its services. TIA members are eligible for undisclosed benefits when they sign up for a new website with Net Driven, TIA said.
c Disclosed its Automotive Tire Service (ATS) Advanced Instructor Training Tour would visit 13 cities in 2014 for four-day, hands-on training classes. The program seeks to train instructors to teach TIA's ATS safety procedures and guidelines for servicing passenger and light truck tire and wheel assemblies. Most of these classes are held at local community and technical colleges.
The tour locations are: February: Charlotte, N.C.; March: Sarasota, Fla. and Houston; April: Denver and Baltimore; May: Minneapolis; June: Pittsburgh; July: San Francisco; August: Chicago; September: Cincinnati and Boston; and October: Los Angeles and Tallahassee, Fla. Dates, times and locations will be released later, the association said.
c Released the Tire Safety Starts with Winter Tires videos, the third in a series of four consumer education videos planned for 2013.
Tire Safety Starts with Winter Tires is a five-minute video that explains the differences between all-season and winter tires in addition to the performance and safety advantages of winter tires when compared with all-season.
TIA said the video is a shorter and more consumer-friendly version of the recently released Winter Tire Replacement video that was made possible by a grant from Nokian Tyres to the TIA Foundation and filmed at Nokian's Ivalo Proving Grounds in northern Finland.
c Began offering TIA members a self-funded group employee benefits solutionincluding healthcarethrough an alliance with a unit of National General Insurance.
The programbeing administered by National General's Association Benefits Solution (TABS) unitoffers members the option of two of what it is calling the highest rated provider networks in the U.S., Cigna Corp. and Aetna Inc.
The TABS program, through its partnership with a number of national trade associations, already serves close to 300 employers representing approximately 20,000 covered lives. TABS can accommodate employers located in all states except Hawaii and the plans are compliant with the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA).
Through its subsidiaries, National General Insurance writes more than $1.3 billion in annual premium coverage, TIA said. In addition to the positive budgetary impact, participants will gain access to comprehensive coverage, superior wellness and care management, information and consultation on health care reform, and streamlined administration of eligibility, billing, and enrollment.