Dan Beach, the incoming president of the Tire Industry Association (TIA), knows retail. During his 40-year career in the tire industry, Beach ran retail operations for one of the world’s largest tire manufacturers, operated his own chain of stores and until the end of 2008 will continue to serve as CEO and president of the Tire Alliance Groupe (TAG), a buying group comprised of large regional tire dealerships that encompass more than 1,400 retail outlets throughout the United States.
“My whole background has been focused on the retail side of the business,” says Beach, who takes the gavel from outgoing TIA President Peggy Fisher this month during the 2008 Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) Show.
Beach started his career with Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co., where he went on to develop retail stores in Colombia, Venezuela and Sweden, holding the title of director of sales and marketing. (Beach is fluent in Spanish and claims a working knowledge of Swedish.) After eight years abroad, he returned to the U.S. in 1977 to launch his own dealership, Ventura, Calif.-based Dob’s Tire & Auto Centers, which grew into a 96-outlet chain over the next 19 years.
Beach sold his stake in Dob’s Tire in 1996, the year he assumed his current role with TAG, which had been founded one year prior by Beach and five other tire dealers.
He also has been active in numerous industry organizations, including manufacturer advisory councils, and has served TIA as secretary and vice president of its board of directors.
From tire aging and counterfeit tires to further development of its training programs and maintaining its fiscal position, TIA faces a number of critical issues over the next 12 months.
An avid surfer, Beach may look and sound like a laid-back Californian, but when it comes to business — and his new role as TIA president — Beach is anything but easygoing. Modern Tire Dealer recently caught up with Beach to discuss TIA’s many challenges during the coming year.
MTD: At last year’s SEMA Show, TIA and the Rubber Manufacturers Association (RMA) announced a joint initiative to address the problem of counterfeit tires. Can you bring us up-to-speed on that?
Beach: The RMA and TIA are working a lot more closely together than previously. They both belong to the (U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s) Coalition Against Counterfeiting and Piracy.
This group is going to be extremely valuable in addressing the theft of intellectual property. The coalition is looking at numerous initiatives, such as the development of a clearinghouse to share best practices and strategies, and to leverage existing industry efforts to compile a compendium of case studies and statistics... to explain why intellectual property rights should be respected and enforced.
We also have annual meetings where TIA officers meet with each of the major tire manufacturers.
MTD: Can you provide an update on the T.I.R.E.S. (Tire Initiative for Research, Education and Safety) program? Earlier this year, outgoing TIA President Peggy Fisher indicated that if a government-mandated rolling resistance education program for consumers is created thanks to the passage of the Energy Bill, there may not be a need for a check-off program like T.I.R.E.S. Does the passage of the bill render T.I.R.E.S. moot?
Beach: I don’t know if it renders T.I.R.E.S. moot, but it certainly diverts the way we’ll get at the real objective, which is consumer education. We are now in contact with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration on developing that part of the program in the Energy Bill. We plan on working with them to maybe be a spokesperson for them and to disseminate information through our dealer network. The Energy Bill mandates that someone has to do that. I believe TIA is the right vehicle.
MTD: What legislative issues will TIA target over the next 12 months?
Beach: Right to Repair remains the number one priority for us. We also are involved in the small business health care plan discussions that go on in Congress. And we will continue to address crisis issues as they happen.
MTD: Can you update us on tire aging?
Beach: Tire aging is such a complex, difficult issue. We’ve looked at Europe and what’s happened there. We’ve looked at what the RMA’s position is.
What’s lacking is a database that would establish what’s too old for a tire. You really need the research and a database. We look to the RMA and individual tire manufacturers to come together and make some kind of recommendation.
There are several standards they already use within their dealer organizations and they vary from one manufacturer to another.
MTD: What initiatives will TIA take on the employee training front for its membership?
Beach: TIA’s Basic Earthmover Tire Service training program has been released. One of the things we bring to the table is our TIA Certification program.
With training, there’s less (employee) attrition and increased loyalty to the employer. We are continuing to develop new training programs. And we’re updating existing programs because things change in the industry.
MTD: How is TIA addressing tire pressure monitoring system (TPMS) training?
Beach: We introduced a TPMS training program and are preparing a Phase Two of that.
We also are in the process of preparing a chart that will enable technicians to diagnose problems at a glance.
We’re developing a chart that will list all of the vehicles and the TPMS systems they use, plus how to diagnose and service them. There are so many vehicles and TPMS variations, it’s a very complicated subject.
MTD: How would you describe TIA’s financial position?
Beach: Very strong. We’ve had several years of strong performance so we have a good surplus to fall back on.
The economy is tough right now. Shipments have been down this year. This has had a big impact on our membership and also TIA.
When you’re in a weak economy, there are certain things that people do, like cut memberships in organizations, so it’s a challenge for us.
Fiscal management is a big priority for me coming in.
MTD: Given your background in the tire industry, what unique skills can you offer in your new role at TIA?
Beach: My background has always been on the retail side. In my early years, I worked for Goodyear internationally, generally in the development of retail stores. Then I had my own large retail store chain and, of course, TAG is an alliance of retailers. My whole background has been focused on the retail side of the business. I know what retailers face and the needs they have, and we will be addressing them.
TIA membership includes tire dealers, tire manufacturers, retreaders, recyclers and companies representing other segments of the tire industry.
When asked about the difficulty of balancing these different parties and their interests, Beach replied that it’s “always a challenge. We have 36 members on our board and we endeavor to make sure that 12 new members come in each year and that they represent all forms of the industry. We have people from every one of those (represented) segments on the board. We have committees that represent each one of those segments. Everybody’s represented.”