(From the Nov. 28, 2011, issue of Rubber & Plastics News)
AKRON—In case you missed the story, we're giving out 10 grand to a tire maker next year to donate to the charity of its choice. Why, you may ask?
Well, the $10,000 donation is connected with the International Tire Exhibition & Conference that will be held in 2012, our big biennial conference and trade show that takes place in Cleveland. The way Dave Zielasko, Rubber & Plastics News' publisher, put it, the tire company that sends the highest number of people to ITEC will win the donation for its favorite charity. The donation was named the ITEC Charity Program.
A similar $10,000 grant is going to the aftermarket half of the tire industry, with a few changes to suit the makeup of the business. That donation, the ITEC Scholarship Program, will be split among the top three state and provincial tire dealer associations that have the most people in attendance at ITEC, and used to support the groups' scholarship programs.
The reasons for these donations are two-fold: To support the tire industry, and to encourage people to attend ITEC.
If you know Dave, you won't be surprised at how this idea came about. He was talking to someone in the retail end of the tire business, asking what he thought about ITEC, and how it can be improved. It was broadly suggested ITEC, which has been a glowing success, “give something back to the industry.” Dave took that idea to his staff, and the scholarship program eventually was born.
Like any trade group, tire dealer associations generally provide scholarships to help defray college costs for deserving students. Giving a donation to three of these organizations helps the groups and the students they support.
The tire manufacturers don't have regional trade groups like the tire dealers/distributors, just one national organization, the Rubber Manufacturers Association. Many tire industry people participate in rubber groups, but those associations generally are more non-tire oriented.
Also, on the tire and rubber manufacturing end, there are a number of scholarships—not enough, of course—given to students by rubber groups, the RMA and the ACS Rubber Division. But no direct charity contributions by trade and technical organizations, as far as I know.
The idea to contribute to a tire maker's charity of choice seemed to make sense.
Tire manufacturers do a lot of giving locally where their plants and other facilities are located. True, donating to charity is a smart business strategy that generates goodwill. But the staffs at these companies also live in the area, so rather than just a public relations effort, the gifts are proper community involvement.
I also should mention that Dave welcomes any other companies to jump aboard the program and become sponsors, adding their donations to the kitty.
It will give them good PR and, more importantly, a chance to be a good neighbor.
Noga is the editor of Rubber & Plastics News.