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50 years and counting: A history of the VAA

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L.C Miller Jr. was on the losing side of a public policy debate involving the regrooving of tires in 1964. The experience led to a win for independent tire dealers and retreaders. In 1965, Miller founded the Virginia Tire Dealers and Retreaders Association, the forerunner to the Virginia Automotive Association (VAA).

VAA Executive Director Steve Akridge looks back on the first 50 years in the June issue of the group’s electronic newsletter. Akridge recounts the evolution of the VAA and salutes its leaders in his article, which is reprinted here.

The history of VAA: 1965 - 2015

by Steve Akridge

In 1964, L.C Miller Jr. of Roanoke went to Richmond and the Virginia General Assembly to lobby on a bill that dealt with regrooving of tires. He ran up against a well- organized and well-funded opponent and lost. It was then he realized there were more battles to come, and the industry had to come together with a strong and unified voice.

He began recruiting a few dealers, and asked them to do the same; and thus the Virgina Tire Dealers & Retreaders Association was formed in 1965. There would be many battles to come including one in 1972 over a proposal to tax retreading equipment. The

defeat of this bill was huge to everyone in the group, and showed the industry why coming together was so important.

The word spread quickly of the new organization. Soon other dealers across the state joined, and the Association found the need for an Executive Director to manage the new group. There have been five over the 50 years. The first was Ralph Howard, who came on board in 1965 and split his time also running the North Carolina association, which had been formed the year before. A year later, the fledging group continued to prosper, and hired its first full time executive director, Bill Shiveley, who lived in Roanoke, and stayed on until 1974. Don Carl, also from Roanoke, led the Association from 1974 until his retirement in 1986.

Issues involving scrap tires, their environmental impact, and concerns over where responsibility lay began to surface, and the Board decided the office would be moved to Richmond in order to be closer to the General Assembly. Brian Daly was hired and ran the VTDRA until 1990. It was during this time our real lobbying efforts began, and legislation to enact a tire tax for the purpose of scrap tire pile cleanup was introduced and passed. This was also the beginning of the Association’s involvement with State agencies and new regulations. Steve Akridge took over in 1990, and remains in that position today.

As the industry was evolving, and most tire dealers were getting more involved in auto repairs, the decision was made March 1991 to change the name to the Virginia Tire and Automotive Service Dealers Association to better reflect on its members’ core business.

The VTASDA continued to be involved at the General Assembly and began to address business issues such as employee training and group programs to save money. In

2004, it became clear our industry was continuing to evolve quickly, and in a big way.

Tire dealers were doing considerable auto repair, muffler shops and garages were selling a lot of tires and service stations continued to do everything. It also became clear our lobby efforts, our training and our programs could benefit any automotive business, regardless of what they considered themselves. At the Annual meeting in 2004 a motion was made to change our bylaws to include other automotive-related businesses, and the membership voted on a new name that was more inclusive of who we represented. The Virginia Automotive Association name was adopted, and remains intact today.

We have been fortunate to have had talented and dedicated volunteer leaders who make up our Board of Directors. With each name change, the Board has expanded its leadership role to include every phase of our industry.

Our supplier partners have also played an important role in the growth and success of the Association, and we have included their representatives on our Board as well. Bob Barnes was our first Supplier President in 2000, followed by Tony Waugh in 2001 and Dave Kavanah in 2008. Fran Boyd was our first female president in 2006, and Don and Brenda Carpenter are the only husband and wife to have both served as president; Don in 1994 and Brenda in 2012.

We have had several fathers and their sons to serve as president; Jim Caroon Sr. in 1971, and his son Jim Caroon, Jr. in 1993; and Bill Board in 1974 and his son, Houston Board in 1989. Bobby Inscoe served as president in 1979, followed by his son David Inscoe in 2002, and Bobby’s son-in-law, Larry Williams, who served in 2010. We have had two brothers serve; Joe Thompson in 1991 and Bill Thompson in 1992.

Terry Westhafer, who was president in 1978, and with the exception of two years he took off, has served on our Board of Directors since 1974, for a total of 39 years! We owe our past and present leaders a big show of gratitude for their passion to our industry and our Association.

It’s been quite a ride over the years in an industry that seems to never sit still. We have embraced the many changes and challenges along the way, and 50 years later, remain strong, relevant and the independent automotive business’ best friend. Here’s to the next 50!

For more information on the VAA, visit www.vaauto.org.

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