Despite intents and purposes to the contrary, the New Jersey State Tire Dealers Association (NJSTDA) appeared to be on its deathbed on Sept. 15, 2015.
The official announcement from longtime President and Executive Director Al Breese technically said the association was being put “on hold,” but there was nothing in the release that indicated the hiatus couldn’t be permanent.
And then there were these ominous words.
“Due to the recent acquisition, mergers and buyouts throughout the Greater New Jersey Area tire industry, combined with the lack of interest on the part of the Independent Tire Retailers, the NJSTDA board of directors has decided to put all of the organization’s future activity on hold for the time being and regroup,” he said, emphasizing the word retailers.
“Unfortunately, without the paid membership and support of our participants, the value of the organization comes into question. The NJSTDA is over 40 years strong and has always been dedicated to the needs of the independent tire dealers of the greater New Jersey area.”
Breese’s plea for “new blood” was a cry for help to keep the association alive. The NJSTDA had outlasted more than one recession, the New Jersey Generals, even disco.
It had done all the right things, from lobbying for favorable legislation to cultivating fellowship. Every year, thousands of dollars were collected and donated to charities, as well.
Breese’s plea for ‘new blood’ was a cry for help to keep the association alive.
As of March 28, 2017, the NJSTDA is back, ready to regroup and rebuild. Meeting costs and 2017 membership dues have been covered by tire manufacturers and the following local wholesalers: Jack Williams Tire Co., American Tire Distributors Inc., Max Finkelstein Inc. and Reliable Tire Co.
Evidently Breese wasn’t able to get a group to cover gas money. Regardless, that leaves no excuse for retailers and other wholesalers in at least the greater New Jersey area to attend these meetings. No excuse.
“If we can’t offer members double or triple what they pay in dues, they shouldn’t have to pay dues,” says Breese. “We want to do more with dealer development and training assistance.”
Breese was encouraged by the turnout in March — at least six new retail members — and the sign-ups for the NJSTDA golf outing in May. The fall meeting will be held in September, and the association’s 50th anniversary will be celebrated next spring.
The importance of state tire dealer associations can’t be overstated. I recently visited annual conventions and trade shows hosted by the North Carolina Tire Dealers Association (NCTDA) and New England Tire & Service Association, and the resources they are providing to their members are amazing. Their dealers understand and appreciate what they can get out of a strong association catering to their needs. Many of the suppliers benefit, too.
Both associations also balance the present with the past by honoring their hall of famers. A well-run association has something for every generation.
“I joined the NCTDA many years ago, but quit because I did not use any of the benefits and services that the association provided,” says Richard Leicht, a first-generation owner and president of Atlantic Avenue Tire & Service in Raleigh, N.C. “Maybe, like some of the New Jersey tire dealers, I did not see the value at the time.
“Years later, I was encouraged to join again and decided to get involved and participate in some of the services and programs. I am glad I did.
“Not only have I saved a lot of money participating in the programs we offer, but I have also made friendships with other tire dealers across our state. Sharing ideas and methods has helped me in running my business, which is invaluable. Most consulting companies charge for this type of service and information.”
Brian McCatharn gets it. A second-generation tire dealer in Washington, N.J., he is always looking for ways to improve business. Prior to the NJSTDA’s time-out, he was a member in good standing.
“It’s good to see how other people are running their businesses. It’s like round-table events.”
McCatharn, manager of Oxford Auto & Tire Inc., says dealers always say they are too busy to join, “but we’re all in the same boat.” He attended the recent meeting, and will tee it up with the members at the upcoming golf outing.
Breese says first-generation dealers made the state association a priority. Now it’s time for the second- and third-generation owners to step up. ■
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