The dawn of the '20s brings with it a fresh outlook, but it also carries some baggage.
And while the tire industry collectively walks tall into the new decade, it does so with a piece of toilet paper stuck to its shoe.
For those in the commercial tire business, the imposition of import duties on truck and bus tires from China was the overriding issue of 2019. For that matter, tariffs were the overriding issue on all fronts in the tire business.
We saw a year in which several foreign companies held off on U.S. expansion in favor of projects elsewhere. South Asia continued to boom.
Mergers-and-acquisitions changed the landscape of who owns what in 2019 and which company will be moving up in our annual rankings of North America's largest independent tire dealerships in 2020.
Being an independent tire dealer in 2019 brought with it some new obstacles and some old.
In 2020, keep your eyes on the horizon.
The big companies will continue to get bigger. Technology will continue to improve at a rate that will make finding, training and retaining good talent difficult.
Plus, keeping up with the new technology can put a strain on any shop owner's wallet.
The competition still will be fierce. Local shops will continue to see customers look to their phones to find a better price even before they've been told how much the new set of tires will cost.
And the trade dispute between China and the U.S. will continue to loom large over the industry like a perennial rain cloud.
But look at the bright side: There's always room for anyone to grow in this business. Technology can and will make the job of selling, installing and maintaining tires more efficient.
And while Amazon and eBay and Tire Rack may steal some sales from independent tire dealers, consumers still need a physical location to get their tires installed. And once they're in your door, well ... those online entities can't shake hands or perform routine maintenance on those vehicles.
Plus, this year is a presidential election year. Your voice can be heard.
This year is a great one to bring change to the industry.
So, grab your umbrellas and understand that your shoes may get wet.
In this new year, we encourage you to keep the big picture in mind — what really matters— when you are lost in the day-to-day details of life.
And more importantly, speak up.
If you don't defend this industry, no one will.
It's time to be loud.
It's time to be fierce.
Here's to roaring in the '20s.