WASHINGTON — For the second year in a row, the Tire Industry Association (TIA) is postponing government affairs events, including Lobby Day, scheduled for Washington later this year.
Both Lobby Day and the group's Environmental Summit were slated for late September, but both of those activities are now being pushed off to 2022 with the hopes that life returns to some semblance of normalcy by then.
TIA also postponed its Lobby Day 2020 as COVID-19 ravaged the country.
"It's just so unfortunate. But the fact of the matter is if you try to schedule something now, you cannot go into any of the buildings downtown," TIA CEO Roy Littlefield said in an April 3 interview.
"If you get into a building where a Congressman is at, every person that goes in has a person with them until they leave — including going into the bathroom and everything else. It's over the top almost."
Many of the locations typically open to TIA continue to be unavailable, including where the association lunched during the 2019 Lobby Day, Mr. Littlefield said. TIA also was hoping to have members tour the Library of Congress, but that site remains closed as well.
Access also is restricted to locations such as the Supreme Court and U.S. Capitol, so the experience of potential attendees would be diminished greatly compared with previous years, the CEO said.
TIA did consider holding a virtual Lobby Day but ultimately decided to postpone the event until people can meet in person. The experience of Lobby Day not only includes sessions with legislators and regulators but also the sights and sounds of Washington.
It's just not the same virtually, Mr. Littlefield said. "And Washington, right now, looks like a war zone, anyway."
"It just seemed like it would have been too much of a letdown on what people have seen and experienced in the past," he said. "We just felt we would have lost too much in the virtual."
TIA, meanwhile, also has decided to postpone its previously planned International Issues Summit scheduled for Nov. 3 in Las Vegas.
Scheduled to be held as part of Global Tire Expo at the SEMA Show, the international summit was designed to bring together an international audience to disucss a range of issues affecting the tire industry, such as tire registration and recalls; motor vehicle inspections; useful tire service life; and scrap tires and crumb rubber
But with continuing questions about international travel, Mr. Littlefield said his association is postponing the event.
The number of international companies registering to display at SEMA is off this year due to COVID-19, he said, and TIA continues to have concerns about the ability and willingness of people to travel from overseas.
"I'm not sure what kind of a turnout we would get," Mr. Littlefield said. "All of the international companies are way down, and you don't know if they are coming back. There's a lot of restrictions in countries coming over here."
"Disappointed, but I think it was the right decision," he said.
TIA hopes to hold the international gathering during the 2022 SEMA/GTE show.