POTOSI, Mo.Freda Pratt-Boyer has been an unusual Tire Industry Association (TIA) president in two ways.
First, as senior auditor of Potosi-based Purcell Tire & Rubber Co. for the past 28 years, she comes from the financial side of tire retailing, not the technical or commercial side.
Second, she is one of just three women to rise to the top of the tire retailing industry's national trade association.
Ms. Pratt-Boyer sees the first factor as not separating her very much from TIA's previous presidents.
All the TIA presidents have been very insightful as to budgets, training and benefits, she told Tire Business. I just continued that as we customized our projects for the coming year.
However, Ms. Pratt-Boyer put her financial acumen to use when she met with representatives from major tire manufacturers to solicit their financial aid for the TIA Foundation, a three-year-old nonprofit that creates training programs for tire-related businesses to help them comply with government regulations, lower liability, educate employees and/or add value to their operations.
That meeting demonstrated the need for funding for the TIA Foundation, according to Ms. Pratt-Boyer.
But instead of presenting it as a solicitation for charity, our presentation was more like a business proposal, a business plan, she said. The presentation underlined the value of funding the TIA Foundation and the benefits that accrued to every tire-related business by funding it, she said.
As for the second factor, Ms. Pratt-Boyer has used her status as a leader in the tire industry to promote and expand the role of women in every aspect of the industry.
TIA is still getting requests for what Ms. Pratt-Boyer calls the Ladies' Brochurethe article titled, Women to Watch in the Tire Industry that appeared in the Spring 2015 issue of TIA's Today's Tire Industry magazine. The article spotlighted 18 women holding positions as owners or executives in tire manufacturing, retailing and service companies.
The tire industry has always been noted as being a man's world, Ms. Pratt-Boyer said at the time of the article's publication. We hope that this effort will elevate the image of women in the professional world and provide women currently in the industry and those considering careers in the industry with inspiration and motivation.
Training women as professionals in the tire industry is every bit as important as promoting their careers, Ms. Pratt-Boyer said.
This is why TIA offered its first-ever Automotive Tire Service (ATS) training certification class for women only, held in Phoenix Oct. 6-9.
That class attracted seven women tire technicians, all of whom passed the course and were certified to train other technicians in their workplaces for ATS certification, Ms. Pratt-Boyer said.
Seven was a good number for a first-ever course offering, she said. Because the instruction in ATS classes is so hands-on, she said, the seven women had an excellent opportunity to learn the basics of ATS thoroughly, including dismounting, inflating, mounting and balancing tires as well as a full day's instruction in dealing with tire pressure monitoring systems (TPMS).
The class went better than I could have asked for, Ms. Pratt-Boyer said. We're definitely scheduling another women-only class next year.
Besides these initiatives, Ms. Pratt-Boyer concentrated heavily on TIA's traditional strengths of technical training and government relations. She said she was proud of the reaction so far to TIA's Online University, which debuted earlier this year.
As for government relations, Ms. Pratt-Boyer was especially pleased with industry reaction to Federal Lobby Day, which TIA and other transportation-related associations sponsored Feb. 5.
During Federal Lobby Day, tire and transportation industry professionals met in Washington with elected officials and their top staff members to discuss issues of importance to the industryespecially reauthorization of surface transportation funding and possible methods of raising money for the Highway Trust Fund.
Ms. Pratt-Boyer enumerated the possible funding mechanismsnone of them favored by TIA or its membersin a Feb. 13 op-ed column for Tire Business. They included:
c Raising the federal excise tax (FET) on truck tires by up to 10 percent;
c Establishing an FET on consumer tires of up to 10 percent;
c Creating an FET on truck parts of up to 10 percent;
c Establishing a tax on retread rubber by up to 15 cents per pound; and
c Raising the fuel tax by $2 a gallon.
Most of these ideas fell by the wayside as the legislative year progressed, but another conceptrequiring a return to mandatory tire registrationbecame part of the Obama administration's model surface transportation bill, much to TIA's dismay.
If enacted, that mandate could bring fines of up to $800,000 per individual tire storea penalty that would usually fall against the Mom-and-Pop stores least able to afford it, TIA said.
Of Federal Lobby Day, Ms. Pratt-Boyer said, We hope we can do this againnot as a repeat, but with new people coming in. We want to help our members understand what is going on.
The Missouri delegation that attended Federal Lobby Day is still talking about how impressed they were by the event and how much they learned from it, she said.
Ms. Pratt-Boyer will continue to have input into TIA programs next year as the association's immediate past president. She said she has complete confidence in the incoming TIA presidentGlen Nicholson, director of retail education and quality assurance for TBC Retail Group.
I think Glen will follow up very, very well on the issues important to TIA, she said.
Although Ms. Pratt-Boyer's post-presidency plans aren't entirely set, she plans to return for the second consecutive year as a speaker at the Clemson University Global Tire Industry Conference, set for next April in Hilton Head, S.C.
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