In the crosshairs: counterfeit tires: TIA’s Fisher issues warning to dealers who sell look-alikes
Look out, manufacturers, distributors and dealers of counterfeit tires: The Tire Industry Association (TIA) and the Rubber Manufacturers Association (RMA) are gunning for you.
During a joint press conference during last month’s SEMA Show, newly installed TIA President Peggy Fisher and RMA CEO Donald Shea announced that their organizations will work in tandem to fight the growing problem of look-alike tires.
The announcement followed passage of a TIA resolution pledging to help tire manufacturers boost awareness about counterfeit products.
“We want every dealer to know what they are involved with if they choose to carry look-alike tires and the consequences that could come their way,” said Fisher. During the show, Modern Tire Dealer sat down with her to discuss TIA and the RMA’s plans.
MTD: What sort of cooperative activities do you envision?
Fisher: How it will probably work is that manufacturers will identify dealers who are carrying counterfeit tires. If they come across counterfeit tires, they will let the dealer know and also let TIA know. If the dealer is a TIA member, we will encourage the dealer to cease and desist selling counterfeit tires. If they’re getting insurance through TIA, we’ll let Zurich North America, our insurance carrier, know. They’re not going to want to insure someone who’s carrying counterfeit tires.
MTD: Was there a certain incident that was the impetus behind the joint effort?
Fisher: We had discussions with the (RMA member) CEOs as we do during the course of every year and they mentioned that (look-alike tires) are a problem. They were stumbling across tires coming in that were exact look-alikes to theirs. They brought this to light. That’s why we’re committing ourselves to the rubber manufacturers.
We’re very concerned about the image of the industry. If the image of the industry is damaged due to counterfeit tires that consumers think are good and they’re really not, it would be a terrible thing… it goes right to the foundation of our industry.
MTD: Are you planning to produce specific educational materials to help dealers identify counterfeit tires?
Fisher: We’ve put out a bulletin on this. It’s very new to us, so as we get more experience, we’ll put out more materials for dealers.
MTD: Have you received any feedback from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration regarding this initiative?
Fisher: Counterfeit parts in general are becoming a huge issue. They’re in every industry. In the trucking industry, (counterfeit) lug nuts have been a problem for years.
I’m not saying every part that comes in from overseas is terrible; there are good manufacturers overseas. But there’s a lot of junk coming in, too. The government is starting to look at it, because it has the ability to undermine our whole economy.
Fisher advises dealers to be particularly vigilant. “If they find deals where they can buy ‘premium’ tires for half the price of what they’d normally pay, that’s a tip-off that something’s not right.”
Government concern: DOT wants to spread word about look-alike tires
Counterfeit tires pose a significant threat to the motoring public, says Claude Harris, director, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Office of Vehicle Safety Compliance. “We’ve been working with the Tire Industry Association (TIA)and the Rubber Manufacturers Association (RMA) on this issue,” Harris told Modern Tire Dealer during the SEMA Show. “They have an interest based on two perspectives: number one, intellectual property issues, and number two, they want to make sure that the playing field is level.”
Harris says the United States Department of Transportation, TIA and the RMA are trying “to do outreach to non (RMA)-member companies. We’re going out to various industry association meetings. We’ll probably take a couple of trips to China and other countries,” where some look-alike tires may originate.