WASHINGTON—The 2019 Tire Manufacturing Ambassadors' program, held in Washington June 24-25, had the most diverse group of participants in the event's history, according to Anne Forristall Luke, CEO and president of the USTMA.
"We have people from Des Moines, from Texarkana, from California and New York—literally the length and breadth of America's tire industry," Luke said.
"There's diversity of age, ethnicity and position. We have senior industrial engineers, tire engineers, tire builders, people from customer service and global trade compliance. This year's group really demonstrates the breadth and diversity of our industry."
Personnel from 11 tire manufacturing companies, all members of the U.S. Tire Manufacturers Association, were participants at the third annual Tire Manufacturing Ambassadors' program sponsored by the USTMA.
All of the ambassadors were hand-picked by USTMA members based on criteria the association provided to go to more than 25 congressional offices, accompanied by USTMA officials, to meet with elected officials and their staff.
Each elected official represented a state or district with strong manufacturing presences, according to Luke.
"As in past years, we were looking for ambassadors with leadership ability, a dedication to safety and to the industry, and a history of community service," she said.
The ambassadors discussed issues of importance to tire manufacturers, as well as the economic contributions tire manufacturing brings to national, state and local economies.
Perhaps the most important issue this year was the new Congressional Tire Caucus, which was founded in May by Reps. Joe Wilson, R-N.C., and Jim Cooper, D-Tenn.
The ambassadors discussed the caucus and urged the officials to join, according to Luke. Several members of Congress have expressed interest, she said, but so far the only one to confirm his membership in the caucus is Rep. Mike Bost, R-Ill.
The U.S. tire manufacturing industry accounts for more than 737,000 jobs, both directly and indirectly, according to the USTMA. There are 56 tire manufacturing facilities in 17 states, generating more than $27 billion in annual sales. The industry directly supports more than a quarter-million jobs representing almost $20 billion in wages, it said.
The 2019 Tire Ambassadors are as follows:
- Jennie Baldwin, global trade compliance, Michelin North America Inc.;
- Nelson Beato, corporate headquarters, Kumho Tire U.S.A. Inc.;
- Wesley Billups, components prep TT, Goodyear.;
- Johnny Densmore, finishing coordinator, Pirelli Tire North America Inc.;
- Dwight Hansen, senior technical customer service, Toyo Tire Holdings of America Inc.;
- Jay Johnson, logistics technology lead, Continental Tire the Americas L.L.C.;
- Bryan Lawson, tire building division manager, Yokohama Tire Corp.;
- Jared Lofland, area business manager, DSM-Curing, Bridgestone Americas.;
- Queenie Edwards Miller, industrial engineer, Cooper Tire & Rubber Co.;
- Tony Quarles, senior tire engineer, Giti Tire (U.S.A.) Ltd.; and
- Alexander Stojanovski, continuous improvement specialist, Sumitomo Rubber Industries Inc.
Hankook Tire America Corp. did not send a representative to the 2019 Ambassadors' program.
"They were sorry they couldn't send someone this year, and they definitely intend to send an ambassador next year," Luke said.