The effort by the American Retreaders Association to go global will be interesting to watch. The group has come a long way from its roots as the Central States Retreaders Association when it formed in 1957. The organization now has 1,621 members and boasts that 15 percent of that membership comes from 54 countries other than the U.S.
The name ``International Tire and Rubber Association'' probably better reflects how the ARA has been refocusing for a number of years. Once known primarily as the sponsor of the ``Louisville Retreaders Conference,'' the ARA now serves, in its own words, ``the total tire and rubber industries in addition to tire service, retreading, repairing and recycling.'' Sounds like a pretty big bite to chew. Particularly with the existence already of the National Tire Dealers & Retreaders Association, the Rubber Manufacturers Association and other international groups such as the Rubber Association of Canada.
The ARA is trying to define and refine its role in the tire/retreading business. That's a good idea, and an exercise that all trade groups should consider from time to time.
Some things take time. Lots of time.
That's the case with federal product liability reform, a law 15 years in the making, and still not finished.
Legislation actually has been passed by both houses of Congress that makes major changes to relieve business of what it considers onerous laws. Of course, President Clinton plans to veto the new law, and it doesn't look like the votes are there for an override.
So it goes on the product liability reform trail. This time it shouldn't be back to square 1, not with actual bills created and passed.
Make no mistake, this legislation is designed to help business interests, not consumers, despite what proponents claim. Business can't stand and want to curb trial lawyers making a bundle on seemingly frivolous lawsuits.
The nation really does need product liability reform. It certainly would ease the concerns of rubber companies that have or are afraid of ending up in court over product liability issues.
With a bill on the table, and a veto imminent, its time for both sides of the issue to practice the art of compromise.