LAS VEGASThe Tire Industry Association (TIA) has a message to the industry and its membership: We will keep our technology programs fresh and updated at least every five years.
So said Kevin Rohlwing, the trade group's senior vice president of training, during a wide-ranging press conference at the recent Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) Show in Las Vegas during which TIA executives touched on the association's growth, where it's headed and how it plans to get there.
In 2017 TIA will be concentrating a lot of focus, for instance, on vehicle-lifting and -jacking procedures, Mr. Rohlwing told trade press journalists, because that's the No.1 accident area of concern in tire and automotive repair shops.
He also cited the group's RIST procedure as being important not just for technicians, but any shop using TIA's tire-pressure-monitoring-system (TPMS) relearn chart, which it just refreshed for members.
RIST is an acronym that represents the precautionary wheel installation steps for tire service work. It was developed to promote safety and accurate procedures within service shops as a way to reduce potential error while observing proper wheel torque.
The first step of the procedurethe Rentails removing debris from a wheel's mating surface, according to Mr. Rohlwing. The I stands for the necessary step in which a technician inspects wheel components to identify any visible issues or signs of damage that could affect a vehicle's safe operation after service.
The Sfor snugmeans snugging the lug nuts in a star pattern to ensure the seating process is equal around the hub. Tthe final steprequires technicians to tighten each nut to the recommended torque in a star pattern, taking precaution to ensure the proper amount of pressure is applied, he explained.
To keep those and other training regimens top-of-mind, TIA has expanded its training schedule in 2017, offering 75 weeks so far.
We're helping to create these solutions while giving technicians the tools and resources to be the best, Mr. Rohlwing added, noting the association takes a systems approach to its training, meaning techs understand...that all the components work together, and tire safety begins with them.
To reach more of our members and broaden our training efforts, he continued, in 2017 TIA's Automotive Tire Service (ATS) Advanced Instructor Training Tour will visit Dallas in January; Charlotte, N.C., in February; Baltimore in June; Seattle in September; Louisville, Ky., in October; and Sarasota, Fla., in December.
The trade group also is solidifying training dates with a network of 35 to 40 technical and community colleges across the U.S., which has been very effective for us, Mr. Rohlwing said.
Although TIA is not scheduling any women's training classes for 2017the last one in 2016 had low attendancehe said the association is considering a women's commercial tire class next year. If it goes ahead with that, it would be held in Baltimore.
Asked if TIA has received much inputpluses and negativeson its training programs, Mr.Rohlwing said its certified earthmover tire course, which will be offered in the first quarter of 2017, is a direct result of members saying that the basic course is good but needs a follow-up.
The trade group, which has trained more than 100,000 persons in 36 countries, also is planning in 2018 to bring members together for listening sessions to get their feedback. Areas that have been updated in TIA's training are a direct result of what Mr. Rohlwing called several membership summits.
We're constantly listening to members, and they definitely call...and feel very comfortable telling us how we can make our programs better. They're depending on us and they're not shy.
Roy Littlefield, TIA executive vice president, told journalists the organization's budget is very solid, and that it will stick with what has worked by continuing its prime focus on training and government affairs.
He cited tremendous growth in membership for the fourth year in a row, with TIA numbering more than 6,000 members after adding 1,782 members in 2014-15 and, through this past September, 1,556 members in 2015-16 .
New TIA President Tom Formanek, who succeeded Glen Nicholson at the organization's helm during TIA's annual membership meeting Oct. 31 at the Tropicana Hotel in Las Vegas, mentioned that he's been around the tire industry since 1993. That encompasses several iterations of what now is TIAincluding the National Tire Dealers & Retreaders Association (NTDRA), Tire Association of North America (TANA) and International Tire & Rubber Association (ITRA).
Of TIA's ongoing goals, Mr. Formanek, regional sales manager for Stellar Industries, said: We're finally focusing on what our members want: a concentration on government affairs and training.
Then adding a bit of levity to the press conference, he sheepishly admitted: My job this year is not to mess it up.
To reach this reporter: [email protected]; 330-865-6130; Twitter: @SigMikolajczyk