The Tire Industry Association (TIA), the nation's foremost association for tire dealers, distributors and retreaders, was asked where the industry stands in mid-year 2018. Roy Littlefield, TIA's longtime executive vice president, answered Tire Business' questions on behalf of the association.
Q: With the year nearing its halfway point, how would you describe the state of the association in 2018?
A: I've been here since 1979, and I would have to believe that the state of the association is stronger than it's ever been. Our membership has more than tripled, we are training more than 12,000 technicians every year, our Online University is exceeding all expectations, and we are regularly putting money in our reserves.
Q: What are some of the pleasant surprises you are seeing for TIA and its members?
A: I wouldn't call this a surprise, but it is very encouraging that we are working with USTMA (U.S. Tire Manufacturers Association) on issues of mutual concern, such as tire registration. All segments of the industry are showing a real maturity, and a real respect for each other.
Also, we signed 54 new members in the past week alone, so that's a pleasant surprise.
Q: What are some of the challenges you and your members are facing?
A: Of all the issues we face, No. 1 is health care. Affordability and availability of health insurance policies are a huge concern. Retailers are very concerned about online tire sales and where they're going to go.
Our members are also concerned about aftermarket parts. Auto companies are trying to keep their consumer warranties tied to original equipment parts, which is illegal under the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act.
We have been fighting this successfully in the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). (In April, the FTC warned Hyundai Motor Co. to stop requiring the use of Hyundai genuine parts as a requirement for warranty holders, a move TIA, the Auto Care Association and the Automotive Oil Change Association all lauded.)