BOWIE, Md. —"It's been a challenging year, but very fulfilling."
That's John Evankovich's view of his tenure as Tire Industry Association (TIA) president for the past year.
Mr. Evankovich, director of Sam's Club's Tire & Battery Centers, traveled extensively across the U.S. in the past year, meeting TIA members at various events. The mood of the members, he said, could best be described as "cautiously optimistic."
"There's general agreement that the industry is going to grow," he said, "but we're coming into a time of political uncertainty, and that can have an effect on our overall business."
- This story appears in the Oct. 28 print edition of Tire Business.
Mr. Evankovich said he was especially happy with the growth in TIA membership, which is up 14% for this year, to around 13,500. He credited TIA's comprehensive, state-of-the-art training programs and its deep involvement in government affairs for the increase.
A native of upstate New York, Mr. Evankovich started at Sam's Club as a tire technician in 1990 and worked his way up through the ranks. As a longtime industry veteran, he feels that rapidly changing technology is perhaps the greatest of the many challenges that tire dealers are facing.
"The industry is becoming digital, and it's changing how we serve the market," he said. "We have online sales now and new vehicle technologies. Our job is keeping our members prepared to handle that technology as they see it."
Of the accomplishments completed during his TIA presidency, Mr. Evankovich said he is proudest of reactivating the Environmental Action Committee (EAC), which is tasked with providing guidance on advisory services, educational programs and government assistance that promote environmental awareness, economic viability and sustainable best practices.
"I've been passionate about that for many years," he said.
Mr. Evankovich is also passionate about the International Forum planned for the Global Tire Expo in November 2020, which he had a major role in creating and planning.
"We'll be bringing people from all over the world," he said. "We'll have presentations on subjects such as service life, regulations and recalls. Some countries may have adopted standards and regulations that could be very useful for those of us in the U.S."
TIA's association with the U.S. Tire Manufacturers Association (USTMA) also continues to grow and deepen, according to Mr. Evankovich.
"That's an accomplishment that continues to move forward," he said.
TIA has established an excellent rapport with the USTMA executive board, he said, and the organizations are working together closely on issues of mutual interest, especially tire registration and recall.
The unity of the TIA message over the past few years has been a great benefit to the organization, according to Mr. Evankovich.
"Before, when you had a new president, you also had a new message," he said. "But the last few years we've all been with the same program and the same message."
Mr. Evankovich said he has talked several times with Brian Rigney, president of Dill Air Controls Products L.L.C. and incoming TIA president, and he feels TIA is in safe hands with Mr. Rigney.
"Brian is well prepared for the role, and he will be outstanding at it," he said. Asked what advice he would give Mr. Rigney, Mr. Evankovich said he should not be afraid of challenging the status quo.
"We shouldn't do things just because they've always been done that way," he said. "Also, I learned as president to organize my time well. It's important to carve out time to decide what your approach is."
Once he leaves office, Mr. Evankovich said, he will continue to be active in TIA issues that are the most important to him, such as the International Forum and the EAC. He also will continue to work with the USTMA on registration and recall issues.
At Sam's Club, Mr. Evankovich said he would focus on the second phase of Sam's Garage. "It's a huge project for us," he said.