(From the July 23, 2012, issue of Rubber & Plastics News)
AKRON—Things are good between the Rubber Manufacturers Association and the Tire Industry Association.
The major trade groups for tire manufacturers (RMA) and dealers (TIA) don't always see eye to eye. A legislative proposal in New York State to set standards for tire repair—and penalties for tire servicers who violate them—is the most recent example.
The New York State Senate Transportation Committee approved a bill last month that requires various steps in tire repair. A fine of $500 for each violation would be levied on tire repair shops.
The RMA was fine with the bill—in fact, the tire lobby devised the proposal and brought it to the New York legislature. To say TIA wasn't too hot on it is an understatement.
The tire dealer group viewed the bill as a ploy for tire makers to foist liability for tire-related accidents onto dealers. “It's putting everything on the dealer—like putting up a red flag saying, 'Sue Us!' ” said TIA's legislative operative.
Tire dealers are tire makers' customers, and it's natural to have some friction in a customer-supplier relationship. Certainly, dealers don't welcome price increases any more than a tire maker does when buying raw materials, and there are plenty of other potential sticking points. What's good for the tire manufacturer isn't always good for the dealer, and vice versa, and the two sides have sparred over many issues throughout the years.
TIA came back with its own revisions a week or so after the RMA-supported bill passed committee. The legislature then adjourned until next year, and the bill died.
A new version will be back—that's how the process works. The next proposal, though, will be different because the RMA and TIA now are working in concert on the bill.
Cooperation should result in a law both sides can live with, and model legislation should benefit a sector of paramount importance to tire dealers and manufacturers alike—the consumer.