CUYAHOGA FALLS, Ohio — Phones are ringing, emails are filling inboxes and websites are being constantly updated. Amid the pandemic, trade associations are being put to the test of how relevant — and necessary — they are in the tire and automotive business world.
On days when new federal funding programs opened to help small businesses affected by the pandemic, "we would get bombarded," Roy Littlefield, CEO of the Tire Industry Association (TIA), said.
"When the small business loans became available, and it was a rough rollout, we were overwhelmed by questions, concerns, things like that.
"And we still get questions on the five different laws that Congress has passed and how that affects them. And I'm sure we'll get another round when the new (funding) bill comes out," he said.
"In the last month or so I've never seen the amount of contact we have had with our members in one crisis after another, trying to work with them and help them and make sure they have the information they need," said Aaron Lowe, senior vice president, regulatory and government affairs for the Auto Care Association (ACA).
"It's been crazy. … It's been a daunting task the last several weeks."
ACA President and CEO Bill Hanvey added that addressing members' concerns has bolstered the perceived importance of trade associations.
"We have heard that time and time again from people that have reached out to us to say 'Thank goodness you're around. Thank goodness you have our back.'"
"Working together, exchanging information and sharing experiences — especially in challenging times — is a major part of what belonging to an association like TIA is all about," Mr. Littlefield said.
"We have worked tirelessly to understand, explain and support members. A large number of members have turned to us with questions, concerns and requests. We have expanded our social media outreach, increased the number of email newsletters, developed a unique resource page on our website, and answered every email sent to us and returned every telephone call," he said.