A conversation with Gustavo Lima
MTD had the opportunity to ask a number of wide-ranging questions of Gustavo Lima. Lima has 38 years of international tire industry experience. He is currently the CEO of the Latin American & Caribbean Tyre Expo, the Latin Auto Parts Expo and the newly announced North American Tire & Retread Expo that will be held in New Orleans next April. He’s also the CEO of Oriente Triangle Tire Latin America, a distributor of tires for Latin America based in Miami, Fla.
MTD: You have now held five Latin American & Caribbean Tyre Expos with continued growth each year. What are your expectations for the future of the show?
Lima: The Atlapa Convention Center was sold out this year, and we hope to replicate that for 2015. We look forward to receiving more exhibitors from the U.S., Japan, South Korea, India and European tire manufacturers and distributors. We have noticed an increased interest from Chinese tire companies due to the expected anti-dumping and countervailing duties that may be applied to Chinese tires for the U.S. market.
MTD: How do you measure the show’s success?
Lima: The show has been successful because the exhibitors are selling their products. It is successful for the visitors because they are finding good products and business partners at the expo.
MTD: How much larger (in terms of attendees) do you expect this expo to grow?
Lima: Our goal is to attract 5,000 qualified tire dealers from the region; it is a very high expectation on our part. It might take us a couple of more shows to attain that level, but we have a plan in place and we are constantly investing a large portion of our budget to get the word out in Latin America and the Caribbean.
MTD: You launched another show this year in Panama, the Latin Auto Parts Expo. Can you explain the reason behind this show and what you are expecting it to be in the next few years?
Lima: This show came about as a result of the many inquiries that we had from automotive replacement parts companies wanting to exhibit at the tire expo. We refused and launched the Latin Auto Parts Expo. We had the great honor that the Auto Care Association joined us and together we have built a great new show for the aftermarket, OEM, remanufactured and all other segments of that huge industry. Due to the magnitude of the industry, there is no doubt that this show will grow big and fast.
MTD: You have also recently announced the North American Tire & Retread Expo scheduled for New Orleans in April of next year. The history of stand-alone tire shows in the U.S. has not been good, with the National Tire Dealers and Retreaders Association (NTDRA)/Tire Association of North America (TANA) selling its show to the Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA), and other start-ups having very poor attendance. What’s your rationale for the show?
Lima: Well, I am going back to the future on this, I fondly remember those shows and we hope to make a show that welcomes not only the large manufacturers, but also the regional tire and retread tire distributors. I feel that tire dealers need a place of our own to talk tires and retreads and nothing else. The challenge is to get the tire dealers and retread dealers to come to the show. We are not charging an entrance fee and we strive to make the show not just a business show, but also a fun show.
MTD: Who are your targeted buyers? From which countries?
Lima: The North AmericanTire & Retread Expo is for U.S. tire and retread entrepreneurs, the guys and gals on the front line facing the customers on a daily basis — the people with true grit.
MTD: Who are your targeted exhibitors?
Lima: Honestly, I hope that the big boys come to the expo as exhibitors because no matter how big your company is, a face-to-face meet and greet usually becomes a selling opportunity that must not be missed. With the anticipated Chinese anti-dumping and countervailing duties on the horizon, I see major opportunity for the domestic tire industry to pick up many customers that were importing Chinese products. And you know, we all love to meet and shake the hands of the CEOs, presidents, vice presidents and sales managers of the big tire companies. We want to take our picture with them and put the photo behind our desk back home as a badge of honor. And that human touch is great PR for the company managers. We will throw in the photographer for free.
MTD: What does your show offer that others have not?
Lima: Fun, simplicity, no stress, time to talk tires with other dealers and more fun.
MTD: How will you determine the success of the event?
Lima: We will be successful only if the exhibitors sell new tires, retreaded tires and equipment and recoup their show investment and much more.
MTD: How will this show be different from the Global Tire Expo section of the SEMA Show?
Lima: I love SEMA. They are great at what they do and they are an inspiration to me. We are tire dealers wanting to talk tires to tire dealers and retreaders, with the hope of turning a buck — mano a mano. ■