WASHINGTON—For Nichole Williams and Alison Kubiak, being selected to participate in the U.S. Tire Manufacturers Association's first-ever Tire Manufacturing Ambassadors was a unique and exciting opportunity.
"I loved doing the Manufacturing Ambassadors program," said Williams, a Six Sigma Master Black Belt at the Cooper Tire & Rubber Co. facility in Tupelo, Miss. "When the day was over, all of us were saying, 'When can we do this again? What can we do to keep the momentum going?' "
"One of the big things we wanted to show was how the tire industry seeks to be a good member of the community," said Kubiak, technology manager at Michelin North America Inc. in Greenville, S.C. "We were furthering an understanding of the tire industry as a significant part of the American economy, providing job opportunities and community support."
Nine tire manufacturing members of the USTMA sent hand-picked hourly and middle management workers from their facilities to Capitol Hill Sept. 15.
The Manufacturing Ambassadors represented the industry on one specific issue: to exempt steel used in tire manufacturing from an investigation by the U.S. Department of Commerce to determine the effects of steel imports on national security.
According to the USTMA, domestic steel producers cannot make steel cord, rod or bead wire that meets the quality or quantity demands of U.S. tire makers. Placing tariffs or other restrictions on imported tire-grade steel could do great harm to the domestic tire industry, and also compromise tire safety, the association said.
Even more, however, the USTMA and its members wanted to put a human face on the tire industry. The Manufacturing Ambassadors told congressional staffers of their roles in their companies, how those companies contribute to their local communities, and how they add to federal, state and local economies.
Seeking engaged representatives
According to the USTMA, its members set four qualifications for selecting the Manufacturing Ambassadors. They sought employees who:
• Take initiative and motivate others to excel;
• Demonstrate significant organizational commitment;
• Lead by example to improve productivity; and
• Demonstrate professionalism and ethical behavior.