As I sit and write this — in late December in North Canton, Ohio — the temperature outside is a balmy 65 degrees.
As you sit and read this — likely in early January — I expect the temperature in Ohio to be in the 20s with snow coating the ground.
Such is life in Northeast Ohio. As they say, if you don't like the weather now, wait five minutes and it's sure to change.
That seems to be the mantra of the tire industry, too. Change is about the only constant.
While tariffs and antidumping and countervailing duties on Chinese tires disrupted the industry for some tire makers and dealers — and creating opportunities for others — most of 2019 was relatively calm, compared with 2018, when American Tire Distributors Inc. declared bankruptcy and two of the top tire makers in North America, Bridgestone Americas Inc. and Goodyear, combined to create the TireHub Inc. 50/50 wholesale joint venture.
Then came the news in late December that the owners of Les Schwab Tire Centers — the nation's sixth largest independent tire dealership — are pursuing a sale in an effort to "position it for additional growth and success," according to Les Schwab CEO Jack Cuniff.
What a way to end a year.
As we head into the new year, we at Tire Business have some news, too.
First off, we will be providing a quarterly feature that will highlight news and information from the wholesale market.
We will kick it off with special wholesale coverage in the Jan. 20 edition. Then, on March 16, we will publish our Annual Wholesale Report, which includes — among other lists — a directory of major wholesalers by region.
We also will have special reports on the wholesale market that will publish in print editions in May, August and November.
In addition, we will offer six wholesale e-newsletters to our readers, similar to our Service Zone and Factory Fixes e-newsletters that have been a staple of our industry coverage for years.
Our wholesale coverage will feature original content about news important to the wholesale market.
And here's an invitation to you wholesalers: If you have any news to share about your business — such as expansions, new product lines, additional distribution centers, personnel changes, system upgrades — i.e., anything you think might be newsworthy, please share it with us.
Or if you think your wholesale operation, or a key employee within that operation, deserves some recognition, don't hesitate to let us know.
Be sure to email me at [email protected].
And in 2020, look for us to expand the number of livestreams we bring to you.
Each 30- to 60-minute segment, brought to you live online, will examine a specific topic relevant to the tire and/or automotive service industry.
Each member of our staff, including Managing Editor David Manley, Special Projects Reporter Bruce Davis and Reporter Kathy McCarron, will participate in several sessions over the course of the year.
In fact, look for Bruce to examine the results of our annual Global Tire Report — to be released in the Aug. 31 issue — in one of those livestreams, as we did in 2019.
And one other item we promise to bring back this year: Our Tire Business Best Places to Work survey competition.
Last year, in addition to our annual Tire Dealer Humanitarian Award, Tire Business launched its Best Places to Work survey. Employees and management at participating tire dealerships were surveyed about their benefits, leadership, culture and employee engagement.
A number of tire retail, commercial, OTR, retread and wholesale tire dealerships, with at least 15 employees in the U.S., applied to participate in the free survey process. Best Companies Group (BCG), an independent workplace excellence research firm, once again will manage the registration process.
The scores were tallied based on responses about benefits, policies, practices and other factors, as well as responses from employees who answered questions about their experiences with the company and leadership.
St. Louis Wholesale Tire, a family-run business that specializes in specialty tires and inner tubes, won the inaugural competition.
We encourage all tire dealerships with at least 15 employees to sign up for the free survey. Not only is this a great exercise for you and your employees, but it also shows how your company stacks up against other similar dealerships across the country.
Look for an official announcement in the first quarter.
Happy new year!
While we in the tire trade press compete against each other daily, I would be remiss if I didn't acknowledge the impending retirement of Bob Ulrich, the longtime editor of Modern Tire Dealer.
Bob has served his publication and the industry extremely well during his three-plus decades at MTD. He will be missed.
I personally would like to thank Bob for welcoming me into the tire trade press more than three years ago. We have had some great conversations over the years — most of which centered on our beloved Cleveland professional sports teams.
Bob, I wish you all the best as you start the next chapter of your life. In the words of a former Northeast Ohio sports scribe, "See you somewhere, I hope."