Broken records: 2011 SEMA Show wrap-up

Dec. 20, 2011

The numbers don’t lie. The 2011 Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) Show was a huge success. A record 132,000 people attended the event, according to the Tire Industry Association (TIA), which sponsored the show’s Global Tire Expo section. There also were 61,000 buyers, also a record and close to 19% higher than last year.

Large independent dealers were out in force. Nearly half of the dealers on the Modern Tire Dealer 100 list, and nine out of the top 10, were in attendance. They accounted for 547 buyers.

The number of SEMA Show exhibitors was up, too. There were 2,142 exhibitors in all sections, up 12% compared to last year. The growth was even more significant at the Global Tire Expo: The 239 participating companies represented a 24% increase.

“Our relationship with SEMA has never been stronger,” says Roy Littlefield, TIA’s executive vice president.

Both the SEMA Show and Global Tire Expo were part of Automotive Aftermarket Industry Week, held in Las Vegas, Nev., Nov.1-4. The Automotive Aftermarket Products Expo (AAPEX) was part of the draw.

The 2012 SEMA Show and Global Tire Expo will be held in Las Vegas from Oct. 30 through Nov. 2. AAPEX will close one day earlier.

TIA’s training tour

TIA is taking its four-day Automotive Tire Service (ATS) Certification Course on the road in 2012.

The 28-city tour is targeting the next generation of tire technicians, according to Matt White, TIA’s director of tire service. “We feel that vocational (education) in college does not have the proper tire service training.”

“They are lacking in the modern tire service training,” says Mark Cook, director of communications. “There is not enough emphasis on TPMS (tire pressure monitoring systems).

“We want to raise the bar of the educational level of the technician for 21st century demands. As a result, general public perception and trust will be improved.”

Those who complete the four-day class will be certified as Advanced ATS Instructors, allowing them to certify ATS instructors and technicians in the field.

The tour will visit cities in large metropolitan areas in the continental United States beginning in January. Here is the tentative schedule. For dates, see

First quarter: North Canton, Ohio; St. Louis, Mo.; Miami, Fla.; Philadelphia, Pa.; Chicago, Ill.; Los Angeles, Calif.; and Toledo, Ohio.

Second quarter: Minneapolis, Minn.; Atlanta, Ga.; Seattle, Wash.; Orlando, Fla.; New Orleans, La.; Greensboro, N.C.; Boston, Mass.; and Dallas, Texas.

Third quarter: Richmond, Va.; Phoenix, Ariz.; Salt Lake City, Utah; Baltimore, Md.; Denver, Colo.; New York, N.Y.; and Houston, Texas.

Fourth quarter: Memphis, Tenn.; Cincinnati, Ohio; Kansas City, Mo.; Jacksonville, Fla.; San Antonio, Texas; and San Francisco, Calif.

The training tour is being underwritten by 14 sponsors: 31 Inc., Mighty Distributing System of America Inc., AME International LLC, American Tire Distributors Inc., Mohawk Rubber Sales Inc., Hennessy Industries Inc., Patch Rubber Co. (Myers Tire Supply Distribution Inc.), Bartec USA LLC, NAPA Tire Hardware, Dill Air Controls Products, Plombco Inc., Ingersoll-Rand Co. Ltd., Rema Tip Top North America Inc. and MTD, the media sponsor.


Presidential goals include more programs

New TIA President Larry Brandt’s goals include continuing to expand the Global Tire Expo, especially with such new and relevant programs as “TPMS at 10” and the topical “Green @ Noon” series.

Another goal is to continue to strengthen communications with the Rubber Manufacturers Association and find common ground so the two associations may speak with a single voice on relevant issues of the day.

During the Tire Industry Awards, after outgoing TIA President Mike Berra Jr. passed him the gavel, Brandt announced that a central theme of his administration would be maintaining “continuity in TIA’s direction and leadership” and emphasizing TIA’s federal relevance in protecting and educating the driving public and tire dealers.

“TIA’s hallmark is its highly respected training program, with its classes and sought-after support materials,” said Brandt. “TIA is constantly leading the industry in education and training, from our newly updated TPMS Relearn Chart, to its data now being made available for point of sale systems, to the just announced program with Tiremetrix for the TPMS Manager Powered by TIA going online.”

Industry greats receive recognition

TIA inducted four individuals into the Tire Industry Hall of Fame in Las Vegas prior to the SEMA Show. The event honors the outstanding accomplishments of members of the tire industry.

The ceremony began with opening comments from TIA Vice President Randy Groh, who led a moment of silence for three TIA industry greats who passed away in the last year: Jerry White, who died after his induction last year; Bob Malerba, TIA’s president from 2005-2006; and Ed Wagner, who was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1996.

The 2011 Hall of Fame inductees are Bill Fountain, founder of Edmonton, Alberta-based Fountain Tire in Canada; John Gamauf, retired president of consumer replacement tires for Bridgestone North American Tire LLC; Onkar Kanwar, chairman of Apollo Tyres Ltd.; and Ralph “Buddy” Snow, retired vice president and counsel of Oliver Rubber Co.

The induction ceremony was followed by comments from Berra , who reflected on TIA’s accomplishments during his presidency, including enhanced educational services and an emphasis on industry cohesiveness.

CIMS celebrates 40 in big ways

There was a lot to celebrate at the CIMS Inc. booth: a 40th anniversary; the creation of a certification program; and an updated website.

President Susan Kruder’s late husband, Paul Kruder, founded the company in Akron, Ohio, in 1971. He spent more than half a century in the tire industry and was instrumental in establishing the tire registration standards that are in place today.

(The company was started to help its clients comply with the record-keeping requirements of the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Act of 1966 and related federal regulations, specifically 49 CFR Part 574.)

“Because tire registration is a federal law, we help our clients comply with the regulations, but also we give them a valuable sales tool that helps to punctuate to their customers their commitment to safety,” said Susan Kruder.

The new Paul J. Kruder Seal of Certification program will acknowledge the nation’s companies that are in compliance with tire registration regulations. Companies will be evaluated beginning Dec. 1, 2011; the first recipients will be announced in the third quarter of 2012.

“The program is designed to officially recognize those safety-focused companies that have tire buyers’ interests in mind as they lead the tire registration process,” she said.

The updated CIMS website is designed to be more educational and easier to use.

“It will give all of our customers an easier forum in which to implement CIMS’ tire registration services,” said Kruder. “Tire dealers can sign up for CIMS E-tire Registration online, order CIMS All Brand Tire Registration Forms or learn more about our Point-of-Sale Electronic Registration.”

There is an app for that

ASA Automotive Systems is creating a customizable app for retail tire dealers. According to President Ken Halle, the app will be ready by the end of the year.

Initially, the app will allow the consumer to:

1. Search for tires and request quotes;

2. Find a dealer’s location; and

3. Use coupons and be informed about special offers.

He said that after phase two of the project is completed, consumers will be able to buy tires through the app. (ASA’s customizable app for wholesale dealers already is in use. It is linked to the ASA wholesale website.)

Apps are not the only way the company is going mobile. Mobile and wireless tools compatible with ASA software include rugged tablets (lightweight, durable alternatives to traditional laptop computers); bar code scanners that also have “ship and bill” capabilities (inventory mobility); VIN scanners (CarSide); and iPads and iPhones.

“We’re continually looking to arm people with applications that will... increase traffic flow and (drive) new business to their dealerships,” added Halle.


OEM replacement sensor

Schrader International Inc. introduced an additional programming option for its EZ-sensor technology, a programmable OEM-replacement sensor.

In addition to the hand-held programming tool line from Bartec USA LLC, the Bartec TPMS Programming Accessory Device (TPMS PAD) makes programming, replacing and relearning TPMS replacement sensors quick and efficient.

The Bartec TPMS PAD is now one of 12 different options that are capable of programming the Schrader EZ-sensor, the company notes.

“With more than 238 million TPMS sensors in the field currently, service and repair shops need solutions that will make TPMS programming and repair as easy as a standard oil-change,” said Scot Holloway, general manager, Bartec. “The new Bartec TPMS PAD offers an additional, quick way of programming Schrader’s EZ-sensors. Simply load the software on the shop’s PC/laptop and connect the TPMS PAD to your computer. With the easy-to-use on-screen interface, choose the make/model/year of the vehicle you’re working on and quickly program EZ-sensors.”

Key features of the TPMS PAD include:

 • Quick Make/Model/Year on-screen look up, including 2012 model year coverage.

• Direct reading of an existing/damaged sensor for quick programming of EZ-sensor.

• On-Screen Relearn Procedures. By including the relearn procedure in the TPMS PAD, technicians will have all necessary instructions to properly relearn the vehicle’s TPMS system without the need for alternative references.

The TPMS PAD is the most recent addition to the portfolio of scan/programming tools compatible with Schrader’s EZ-sensor.

‘5 Trends in 5 Minutes’ from R.L. Polk & Co.

Tim Rogers, David Portalatin and Mario Gabelli presented the latest financial, industry and consumer trends at the Automotive Aftermarket Industry Association (AAIA) Town Hall at AAPEX. The event was hosted by AAIA President Kathleen Schmatz.

Rogers is president of Polk, the event’s sponsor, which is an operating unit of R.L. Polk & Co. His “5 Trends in 5 Minutes” presentation outlined developments in the auto aftermarket.

• Light vehicle sales are headed up, but slower than expected.

• There are dramatic shifts in the mix of new vehicle registrations.

• There is no end to the parts proliferation challenge.

Rogers explained that OEMs and their dealer networks are an awakening giant. Dealer profits have gone up 60% in the last 24 years. In addition, there are 15% fewer dealerships. These factors will continue to remain significant to the aftermarket.

Portalatin is executive director Industry Analysis with The NPD Group. He explained the major auto trends that have taken place since the recession.

In 2008, consumers began to defer automotive spending because of a lack of funds. In 2009 the trend was to renew, or perform maintenance to keep older cars on the road longer. In 2010 the recession caused consumers to rethink this strategy, leading to robust growth that year.

Portalatin said that as of October 2011, consumer’s outlook on the economy has grown worse than it was in 2008. Because 70% of consumers he surveyed said they know someone who has been laid-off, consumer pessimism currently persists.

Gabelli is chairman of GAMCO Investors Inc., a widely recognized provider of investment advice. Gabelli said that when he founded GAMCO in 1977, the aftermarket could be summed up as “mature, fragmented and with free cash flow.” He said that today the aftermarket can be summed up the same way — mature, fragmented and with free cash flow.

Gabelli cited a quote from Charles Darwin that applies to the aftermarket — those who adapt to change are the ones who survive. He said the U.S. needs to rethink its energy dependence and find alternate sources.

P Zero Silver leverages F1 involvement

The familiar Pirelli P Zero tread pattern is the same. The inside of the tire, however, is state-of-the art.

Pirelli Tire North America Inc.’s new Pirelli P Zero Silver shares its modeling process, including material technology, with Pirelli’s Formula One P Zero line.

Pirelli & Cie SpA was named the sole tire supplier to all F1 teams only last year. However, it has a 104-year history of racing involvement, including, at one time, Formula One.

“That is why there wasn’t a steep learning curve when we went to the series,” said Rafael Navarro III, Pirelli Tire North America’s vice president of communications and media relations.

Similarly, Pirelli’s use of the modeling and relative data gathered at F1 races allowed for a faster development of the P Zero Silver, reducing the time required to develop a tire from the ground up to only a few months.

P Zero Silver is the first limited edition tire specifically developed for premium sport sedan and coupe drivers requiring an extended durability UHP tire. In addition, all the compounds of the P Zero Silver are “aromatic oil free,” which meets the most restrictive European regulations in terms of protecting the environment.

According to Matteo Battaini, chairman, CEO and president of Pirelli Tire LLC, the new tire will be produced at the company’s second-generation MIRS (Modular Integrated Robotized System plant in the Settimo Torinese industrial and technology hub, where all the compounds for F1 are produced.

The P Zero Silver will be available during the first quarter of 2012 in eight 19- and 20-inch sizes.


Cooper targets female demographic

Cooper Tire & Rubber Co. showcased a new marketing campaign, “Precious Cargo,” directed at mothers.

“We tracked four key consumer groups and found that there’s an information gap when it comes to women and tire maintenance,” said Hal Gardner, Cooper’s vice president of Marketing Communications & Intelligence. “ According to Cooper’s survey of U.S. mothers, only 1% consider tire maintenance a priority when they think of keeping their children safe. Less than 1% of responses reported automotive maintenance as a tactic to ensure their child’s safety. Zero responses mentioned tire safety.

Half the mothers surveyed revealed spending more than four hours per week shuttling their kids around town. One-fourth of them did not know how to find their vehicle’s correct tire pressure, properly check tire pressure and tread depth, or change a tire.

To broaden its outreach to women, Cooper Tire partnered with Women’s Automotive Resource, in July 2011.

Hercules: plans for 2012

Bill Trimarco, CEO and president of Hercules Tire & Rubber Co., likes to keep his plans close to the vest. However, in an exclusive interview with MTD at the SEMA Show, he opened up a little bit about his goals for 2012.

“In the first half, we will have line extensions for our Roadtour and Tour 4.0 touring tire lines,” he said. “In the second half, we will introduce two or three programs supporting completely new lines.”

Trimarco said the company will continue to put most of its investment in the Hercules brand, which includes adding sizes to its radial H-Series truck tire offerings. However, the Ironman brand also will be expanded.

Size additions to the Ironman Radial A/P line are under consideration for 2012. “We’re also considering an expansion in the specialty segment for the Ironman brand,” he said.

“We’re concerned about the elevation of price in our products and similar products because of all the increases in 2011. We’re very focused on always providing value.”

Falken gets aggressive -- Three new tire lines, one new brand

Next year will be a big one for the Falken brand. Three new tire lines will be introduced, including a dedicated crossover vehicle line.

If that isn’t enough, Falken will begin offering a second consumer tire brand under the Ohtsu label.

The Azenis FK453 ultra-high performance tire will be available nationally in March. It eventually will replace the Azenis FK452 as the company’s flagship line.

According to Andrew Hoit, vice president of marketing, the tire features significant improvements in handling and reductions in road noise compared to the FK452. It will be available in 64 sizes.

The new Azenis FK453CC was designed for luxury crossover vehicles (as well as SUVs). The tire will be available in 2012 in 16 sizes.

In the light truck segment, the WildPeak H/T also will be introduced early next year. The M&S-rated, all-season light truck and SUV tire will be available in 26 sizes.

Falken will introduce the first Ohtsu consumer tires in the first quarter. The Ohtsu FP7000 is a high and ultra-high performance tire; the AT4000 is an all-terrain light truck tire.

“We realize the pressure for profitability that all our dealers are facing.” said Hoit. It will be priced below the Falken brand.

By the end of the year, the Ohtsu lineup will include “a sport truck line and a UHP product.”

Falken also announced it was in the early stages of developing an associate dealer program. Hoit said the “tiered program” will be rolled out in the second quarter of 2012.

Two new Landsail tires -- There’s a City Star for any size vehicle

Two new Landsail premium all-season touring tires were displayed in the Sentaida International Inc. booth.

 1. The City Star+. The five-rib passenger radial will be introduced in 17 sizes for larger vehicles. The sizes range from 185/65R14 86H/T to 205/50R16 87W. “We will expand it as we move forward... probably to 18- and 20-inch sizes,” said Maxwell Wee, director of sales.

Three-dimensional and circumferential main grooves not only help assure water-evacuating ability, but also enhance handling and braking performance in wet conditions.

2. City Star. The new four-rib radial will be available in 10 13- through 15-inch sizes for smaller cars. It has three wide longitudinal grooves that are designed to evacuate water and prevent tire lateral slide. In addition, the tire’s reasonable groove angle “can enhance longitudinal traction,” said the company.

Wee added that the City Star+ and City Star are M&S rated, in contrast to the company’s other all-season touring tire, the LS288.


Enter the Nitto Motivo -- A UHP tire with a 60,000-mile warranty!

Nitto Tire U.S.A. Inc. has a new all-season tire designed to deliver excellent dry weather performance while maintaining a long-lasting tread life: the Motivo.

The all-weather, ultra-high performance tire is expected to launch in early 2012; eventually, it will be available in 50 sizes ranging from 205/50ZR17 93W XL to 315/35ZR20 110Y XL. All sizes will be offered with a W- or Y-speed rating — and backed by a 60,000-mile limited tread wear warranty.

Whereas Nitto’s Neo Gen all-season UHP tire is designed for the import vehicle market, “vehicles that are lower with more negative camber,” said Alan Ngo, staff engineer,  the Motivo “fits into a different segment. The Motivo is designed to be more of an OE replacement-type product.”

The tire’s optimized tread pattern features the following:

• large tread blocks on the outside of the pattern for dry performance;

• three-dimensional Multi-Wave sipes and fin sipes on the inside of the pattern for winter performance;

• four large circumferential grooves and connecting lateral grooves for wet performance.

Vee Rubber adds Nika -- Associate brand targets all-season markets

Vee Rubber Corp. Ltd. has added the Nika associate brand to its consumer tire lineup in the U.S.

The Nika Avatar all-season performance tire features an asymmetric tread pattern designed with “Dual Nature” technology. The result is a tire than can be mounted for either dry cornering performance or wet and snow performance — without affecting straight-line acceleration or braking characteristics.

“It allows drivers to customize the tire to their driving preference,” said Patrick Hyland, sales and marketing manager for Vee Rubber America Inc.

The tire is available in 23 sizes ranging from 165/70R13 79T to 225/45R17 94V.

The Nika Vastera is an all-season SUV and light truck radial that balances all-terrain characteristics with ride comfort, low noise and long tread wear, according to the company. Five wide, circumferential zigzag grooves not only help evacuate water, but also prevent snow from passing through the tread, which creates additional points of traction that help the tire “grab” the snow.