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ITRA, TANA members approve merger

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The voting is over. All that's left is the official announcement.

Members of the Tire Association of North America (TANA) and the International Tire & Rubber Association (ITRA) approved the merger of both associations.

The official announcement will be made in Bermuda on Feb. 14 at the Off-the-Road Tire Conference.

ITRA's membership voted 321 to 3 to merge, while TANA's membership voted 812 to 23 in favor of one organization, easily surpassing the two-thirds majority each membership needed for acceptance.

Pending approval of the merger by the Kentucky Secretary of State and the Internal Revenue Service, the two organizations are set to be merged on July 1, 2002.

“Another hurdle is behind us,” says ITRA President Tom Raben. “It is great to see the members pass the measure by such a wide margin. We really have a tremendous amount of support for the industry’s largest volunteer effort.”

The associations have been acting as a unified body for several months, effectively merging staff operations and Board of Directors actions, according to Raben.

“Internally, we want to proceed as if the merger has already taken place,” says TANA President Steve Disney. “Effective mergers are orchestrated well before the legal date of the merger itself. We will be up and running on July 1, and to a degree, we already are.”

Disney adds that dozens of joint ITRA/TANA efforts are underway, including the following:

* The Joint ITRA/TANA Government and Public Affairs Committee, co-chaired by TANA board member Terry Sparks and ITRA Secretary/Treasurer Terry Westhafer, met on January 24, February 4 and February 8, 2002, to discuss the association’s current government affairs efforts, upcoming National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) comments and efforts to educate consumers about the safe and proper maintenance of tires. ITRA and TANA already are responding jointly to NHTSA requests for comments regarding implementation of the Transportation Recall Enhancement Accountability and Documentation (TREAD) Act.

* The Joint ITRA/TANA Governance Committee, co-chaired by TANA board member Tony Koles and ITRA Executive Committee member Jimmy Crews, met on January 29, 2002, and reviewed the association’s draft succession plan -- which will set up the size of the board and the members who will serve on that board -- and the draft bylaws for the new organization.

* The Joint ITRA/TANA Training and Education Committee, co-chaired by TANA Vice President Bob Malerba and ITRA Executive Committee member Randy Drake, met on January 31, 2002, to discuss current and future training and education efforts for the new organization.

* The Joint ITRA/TANA Membership Development and Retention Committee, co-chaired by TANA board member Jim Melvin and ITRA Executive Committee member Dick Gust, met on February 1, 2002, to discuss current and future association membership efforts.

* The Joint ITRA/TANA Strategic Planning Committee, co-chaired by TANA President-elect Larry Morgan and ITRA Executive Committee member Mark Whaley, met on February 4, 2002, to discuss the new organization’s strategic goals and to plan the course for the joint association in the coming years.

* The Joint ITRA/TANA Executive Committee, co-chaired by Raben and Disney, will meet February 13, 2002, in Bermuda to discuss merger progress to date and to establish early goals for the new organization.

At the staff level, Executive Vice President Ross Kogel has established more than 50 internal staff focus groups to address all operational issues related to the merger.

Other joint efforts include an ongoing push to strengthen the new association’s ties with state, regional and provincial associations.

Last month, Kogel, Disney and Raben sent a letter to the state, regional and provincial tire industry association executives stating the new organization’s intention to work closely with each association.

“We’ll continue to work very hard to make the merger and the new organization a success,” says Disney. “The merger is good for our members, and it’s good for the industry.”

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