Notes from the 65th TIA OTR Tire Conference

Mike Manges
Posted on February 22, 2020

The 65th edition of the Tire Industry Association Off-the-Road (OTR) Tire Conference is in the books.

Fountain Tire was well-represented during the OTR Tire Conference. From left to right: Nelson Tonn, vice president of sales and mine service; Ben Miller, director of mining operations; Darren Chalifoux, director of OTR safety and equipment; Fountain Tire CEO Brent Hesje; and Gary Foley, director of store OTR operations, in front of a Stellar Industries service truck.
Fountain Tire was well-represented during the OTR Tire Conference. From left to right: Nelson Tonn, vice president of sales and mine service; Ben Miller, director of mining operations; Darren Chalifoux, director of OTR safety and equipment; Fountain Tire CEO Brent Hesje; and Gary Foley, director of store OTR operations, in front of a Stellar Industries service truck.

More than 500 representatives from the OTR tire sector – nearly the biggest number in the event’s history – attended. Here are some notes from the three-day get-together, which attracted OTR tire professionals from all over the globe:

  • Bruce Besancon, vice president of off-the-road sales for Yokohama Tire Corp., and Yokohama President Jeff Barna delivered the keynote presentation, “Predicting the Future of OTR Tires By Looking at the Past and Present.” They discussed tire and equipment connectivity, artificial intelligence, automated vehicles and other emerging technologies. Among their recommendations for OTR tire dealers? Having a good IT department “because it’s all moving digital,” said Besancon. At the same time, according to Barna, “we have to take into consideration what’s happening in real-time today.”
  • The U.S. economy is doing well but things are really heating up in Canada. Unemployment there is at a 44-year low, Glen Maidmont, president of the Tire and Rubber Association of Canada, told attendees. “Virtually every province is planning for positive gross domestic product in 2020, the first time in 10 years that each province is showing growth. That’s why we’re optimistic about the OTR tire business.”
  • End users rely on their tire dealers more than ever. That was the dominant theme of the end user panel discussion, which was moderated by MTD Publisher Greg Smith. “Service is the key,” said panelist Lonnie Sullivan, strategic sourcing manager, mobile equipment, Vulcan Materials Co. And candor is important. “We want someone who will give us the bad news, when there’s bad news, and not worry about losing the business,” he noted.
  • OTR tire dealerships are grappling with how to attract younger employees. During a panel discussion titled “The Next Generation of the OTR Industry,” J.P. Dowling, director of mining for CMC Tire, reported that only 25% of his company’s employee base is under the age of 30. His fellow panelists shared similar numbers. “We’re about 20%,” said Eric Griffin, president of Inland Industrial Tire North.
  • TIA continues to fight for the interests of OTR tire dealers on Capitol Hill. During a legislative update session, TIA CEO Dr. Roy Littlefield and Roy Littlefield IV, the association’s director of government affairs, covered tariffs, infrastructure spending and the always-controversial estate tax, among other issues. “TIA does not believe that death is a taxable event,” said Roy Littlefield IV. “We’ll continue to fight for the estate tax repeal.”
  • Motivational speakers Dave Rosenberg and Steve Gilliland shared words of wisdom with attendees. Don’t be afraid to hold employees accountable, Rosenberg said. “Accurately measure what they do. When you give people metrics, they tend to meet them. It gives you a gauge to know who your go-getters are.” Gilliland said there’s no substitute for preparation – in any endeavor. “When you prepare hard, you finish easy.”

 Stay tuned to www.moderntiredealer.com for more news from the OTR Tire Conference.

Related Topics: OTR tires, TIA OTR Tire Conference, Tire Industry Association

Mike Manges Editor
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