Hail to the new TIA chief
What do Pepsi, women’s clothes and lumber have in common with Wayne Croswell? All three products were produced or marketed by companies looking for a business software provider in the late 1970s, and Croswell wrote the software for them.
“I started out as a programmer for Business Systems Research right out of college,” he says. “We were writing business software for anyone who wanted it.
“The advent of the minicomputer had people lining up for our services. Prior to that, companies ran on mainframes.”
Thirty-two years later, Croswell is president of ASA Tire Systems Inc. Although his beloved programming days are over — “They don’t let me do that anymore!” — he receives some satisfaction from envisioning new ASA technology and watching it become a reality.
Croswell begins his one-year term as president of the Tire Industry Association (TIA) this month. He has been a part of the tire industry for 20-plus years.
What are his plans for the more than 6,000 TIA members? What does he hope to accomplish?
“There are many things that I want to accomplish during my term,” he says. “They include a ‘go green’ initiative, technical and business training programs, increasing our presence in the social networking arena and consumer education.”
In our annual interview with the incoming TIA president, Modern Tire Dealer asked Croswell about not only his many goals, but also the goals of the association.
MTD: What legislative issues will you and TIA focus on over the next 12 months?
Croswell: We will still be focused on Right to Repair — the issue remains strong for our members, and the collapse of the auto dealer network brings up a whole host of related issues. It remains to be seen what will happen with health care reform, but this is still a huge concern for our membership.
MTD: Why should TIA run the government-mandated national tire maintenance consumer education program?
Croswell: I think we answered this succinctly in the comments issued to the Federal Government in our recent reply — the tire dealer has the very unique opportunity of interaction with the consumer at the time of purchase, and TIA has the track record of developing on-target training programs. I think working with NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) we can’t help but grow consumer understanding of the relevant tire knowledge.
(To read TIA’s comments in response to the proposed NHTSA Tire Fuel Efficiency Consumer Information Program, visit http://www.tireindustry.org/news.asp.)
MTD: What is new on the training front from TIA?
Croswell: The Earthmover Tire Service (ETS) Program that was released last year was recently awarded a Telly for the use of animation, so we’re very proud that our training has been recognized by the film and television industries. TIA has invested hundreds of thousands of dollars to improve the production quality of the videos, and it’s great to see an immediate payoff.
The new Commercial Tire Service (CTS) Program has been released, and early response from the instructors indicates it is a significant upgrade from the old material.
Our 2009 TIA TPMS Relearn Chart has also been launched, so retailers have an updated, quick reference guide in the shop for vehicles with this new technology. In most cases, the chart makes it easy to determine when a relearn procedure is necessary and the steps that must be taken to ensure the system is properly monitoring the tires.
We’re planning to upgrade the Automotive Tire Service (ATS) and TPMS programs next year, so our retail training customers can better prepare technicians to work on modern cars, vans and light trucks.
MTD: TIA’s ATS, CTS and ETS programs emphasize technical training. Is the association working on any sales and marketing training initiatives for employees?
Croswell: We recently launched a phone sales training program through ContactPoint, where mystery shopper calls can be recorded and then used for one-on-one coaching with sales personnel. Our training committee expressed an interest in this unique approach, and, after careful evaluation by the staff and board members, we decided to move forward and endorse the program.
ContactPoint signed up several members right away and also sponsored its first free webinar, where more than 60 members participated, which we think is an excellent response. Judging by the response, it’s obvious that our members are interested in sales and marketing training, so we will continue to evaluate the programs that are available.
MTD: How many members does TIA have? How many are independent tire dealers?
Croswell: The actual number of our membership is constantly fluctuating, as new members enter and members leave. Additionally, we are in the midst of our membership renewals for the year; thus, it is extremely difficult to give a precise number. However, at the current time, we have over 6,000 members globally.
Our system is not configured to categorize members by whether or not they are independent tire dealers; however, we estimate that over 3,400 of our members are independent business owners in the tire industry.
MTD: How would you describe TIA’s financial position?
Croswell: As with virtually every other automotive-related business, TIA has not been immune to the extraordinary economic conditions of the past year. However, we have taken, and continue to take, steps to ensure TIA remains a financially healthy, responsibly run organization.
With the steps we took late last year to reduce expenses and increase operating efficiencies, our operating budget ended last year in the black. Our investments were also affected by the downturn in the stock market last year; however, as the market has returned, these investments have also improved.
We continue to look for ways to reduce expenses and improve efficiency. Additionally, it is important to note that throughout this period, our member services and programs have not been adversely affected; to the contrary, we have added several new, strong member benefits this year, including health insurance, business insurance, HR/payroll services and sales training.We will continue to look for programs and services that will continue to make TIA membership a value, and not an expense. ■
Presidential duties -- Croswell’s agenda includes strengthening programs
Wayne Croswell will be president of the Tire Industry Association (TIA) for one year. He says his “to do” list is as follows:
• ensure the association remains financially strong and profitable;
• promote the existing member benefit programs to the membership;
• raise PAC (Political Action Committee) awareness and build the PAC fund;
• increase the TIA Foundation fund for educational programs;
• continue to create new training programs and improve existing training programs;
• be the “eyes, ears and voice in global, national and state legislative matters that impact our members”;
• raise the value of membership for all members; and
• continue to work closely with all tire manufacturers and the Rubber Manufacturers Association.