Incoming TIA President Nothdurft Outlines Key Issues for 2021
The Tire Industry Association (TIA) will have a new president next month, when Dan Nothdurft takes the organization's helm.
Nothdurft is the president of Sioux City, Iowa-based Tires Tires Tires, which he founded in 1986. The dealership has two locations in Sioux City, plus two more locations in Sioux Falls, S.D.
An optimist by nature, Nothdurft is excited about the year ahead, despite challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It’s amazing how many opportunities TIA gives you to get involved” in legislative affairs and other issues that impact independent tire dealers, he says. “It's very rewarding in that you get to help shape our industry.”
In this interview, Nothdurft previews some of the things that TIA members can expect to see from the association in 2021. This includes the continuation of TIA’s popular training webinars and other efforts.
"As an independent dealer, I face the same issues as our members every day," says Nothdurft.
MTD: COVID-19 has had a major impact on our industry with travel restrictions and the recent cancellation of the 2020 Specialty Equipment Market Association Show, the Global Tire Expo - Powered by TIA and TIA’s 100th anniversary celebration. How has TIA adjusted?
Nothdurft: As you know, earlier this year, we developed online Automotive Tire Service (ATS) webinars. We put together six weeks of webinars for our members, starting in May. We had a pretty good response. The first two weeks, we had over 350 participants and then, by the time we were done, over 800 (students) had completed the class. People wanted the information. (Editor’s note: Throughout the month of October, TIA has hosted 200-Level Basic Commercial Tire Service training sessions online.)
There’s nothing better than hands-on training because you absorb and retain more. But I really do believe that in the future we will have to look at more online training. It’s still a work in progress. We’re in uncharted waters. But I don’t care if you’re a tire manufacturer or an independent tire dealer, you have to change how you do things.
We’re redoing all of our Commercial Tire Service and ATS training modules and are updating them. The technicians whom we’ve used for hands-on training have been working on updates and reshooting and filming all the basic (training components.)
MTD: The pandemic has made getting together on a big scale almost impossible. TIA announced that its 100th anniversary celebration has been moved to next year…
Nothdurft: I think moving the celebration to next year will make it even better. One hundred years is quite an accomplishment and to celebrate the vision that a handful of tire dealers had in 1920 to start something like this and all the years of changes and improvements - it’s going to be a great celebration.
MTD: Moving onto legislative matters that could impact the association’s members, TIA CEO Roy Littlefield recently cited tire registration and possible infrastructure legislation as two issues that the association will continue to watch. What are some other legislative issues that TIA will monitor on behalf of its members?
Nothdurft: With tire registration, the biggest thing we are fighting for is the proper way to get tires registered. And we are fighting against the exorbitant fines that can be applied when tires are improperly registered or not registered at all. Your first fine for failure to register is $23,000! I just think that’s crazy.
MTD: How does your background and status as an independent tire dealer help shape your agenda for 2021?
Nothdurft: As an independent dealer, I face the same issues as our members every day. Our biggest challenge right now is recruiting, training and retaining quality employees - people who want to make the tire business their career.
Unfortunately, the education system we send our children through has largely eliminated shop class. Kids who are more mechanically inclined are not catered to anymore. Schools almost want to force kids to go into a four-year college when in fact, they can make more money, in some cases, by going through a two-year program and working as an auto service technician.
MTD: Does TIA have plans to help its members identify, recruit and train auto service techs?
Nothdurft: I would love to see that. TIA predominantly deals with government affairs and safety training, but I would also like to see the association expand into leadership and management training for independent tire dealers. Most dealers start, like I did, by selling tires and changing tires. You learn little by little. There are a lot of areas where dealers probably need some help. And these are some areas that we will look at in the future. You can always learn something new.
MTD: What are some of the other pressing issues facing tire dealers right now? Are there other challenges that you see, from your position as an active dealer?
Nothdurft: We are going to have problems with tire disposal. If we can turn crumb rubber into all asphalt, it would be a great way to use what we have as recycled material, and roads will sometimes last four to five times longer. There are other things we have to work on. I would like to see this tire registration thing finished. I also think that someday we will have to do something about tire aging because it’s a safety issue.
MTD: Why is TIA needed now more than ever?
Nothdurft: Representing the tire industry, including tire dealers, we realize there are a lot of things in government that will impact us. We need to watch the estate tax, for example. I have a son who works in one of my stores and he’s already mentioned that one day he would like the company to be his. There are so many things to deal with that will always affect our business.
“This past year has been a whirlwind with the COVID-19 problem,” he says. “We’re in uncharted territory, dealing with that. Going forward, we will have to react to what’s handed to us. But by being involved in TIA, you are really giving yourself a voice. It’s the only way to make things happen.”