Here, verbatim, was my reaction when I found an e-mail sent to me Oct. 5 that said HARVEY BRODSKY HAS BEEN FIRED BY THE TRIB BOARD OF DIRECTORS AS OF THE END OF BUSINESS TODAY:
“What the à”
You can imagine the rest. It would take up a couple of paragraphs.
The e-mail came from Brodsky, who said he wasn't told why he is out. Since then the Tire Retread & Repair Information Bureau's president has said he won't discuss why the board decided to boot Brodsky, the TRIB managing director for nearly 30 years, and would rather “try to focus on the future as opposed to what happened in the past couple days.” Later the TRIB board sent a letter to members stating Brodsky was offered an “alternative,” but chose to take another path.
Harvey Brodsky IS retreading. If you look in the dictionary under “retreading,” you'll see his picture. If he could have gotten away with it, Brodsky would sneak into truck stops and replace new tires with retreads. He gave away retreads as Christmas presents.
OK, I'm exaggerating. But you get the point—the man lived and breathed retreading, and was its biggest and most eloquent defender. If anyone, anywhere in the world, bad-mouthed retreads, Brodsky was all over them.
I kid you not. If an obscure local newspaper in Zanzibar quoted someone saying they preferred new tires because retreads weren't as reliable, Brodsky would be firing off letters to the editor or calling the reporter to give the retread industry's side of the story. If a celebrity made a joke that used retreads as a punchline, Brodsky would be on the phone, pointing out retreads are no joke.
Retreads are fabulous products, more vital today than ever because they promote sustainability. If retreads weren't important, fleet owners would stick with new tires, and Goodyear, Michelin and Bridgestone wouldn't have serious retreading businesses.
But retreads have been saddled with a foul reputation that dates back to the “good old days,” when quality wasn't a concern. We're talking pre-World War II, and certainly during the conflict, when rubber was a war commodity and consumers made do with everything, including poor quality retreads.
Brodsky's been on a mission for decades trying to change that perception.
He's been relentless, more so than any advocate for an industry sector I've ever seen. I'd call him fanatical about retreads, except he never used mere opinion or obfuscation in his cause. Instead he relied on hard facts to back up his defense and promotion of retreads.
The TRIB board quickly hired Marvin Bozarth out of retirement to take the managing director's job on an interim basis while it looks for a permanent replacement. Bozarth is another solid name in retreading, so that's a smart move.
But I hope the TRIB board members knew what they were doing when they showed Brodsky the door. I doubt it.
Noga is the editor of Rubber & Plastics News.