BOWIE, Md. — The Tire Industry Association (TIA) will induct two of its longest-tenured leaders — current CEO Roy Littlefield and the late Martin J. Barry — into the Tire Industry Hall of Fame in November during TIA's Centennial Celebration events in Las Vegas.
The trade group also will recognize a pair of individuals for their contributions to the industry during the event: Monte Niemi, CEO of First State Tire Recycling in Isanti, Minn., as the winner of the 2021 Ed Wagner Leadership Award, and Miles D. Moore, retired senior Washington reporter for trade publications Rubber News and Tire Business, as the recipient of the Friend of the Industry Award.
Littlefield — who has been at TIA's helm in a number of executive positions since January 2003 — announced plans recently to retire, capping a 50-plus-year career in the tire and automotive service industries.
The Hall of Fame Award is considered the tire industry's highest honor, TIA said. It recognizes individuals who have contributed greatly to the growth and development of the tire industry or have demonstrated high standards, ideals and leadership in the management of their businesses and in the tire community and have achieved goals and success that distinguish them from others.
"We are pleased to honor these exceptional individuals entering the Tire Industry Hall of Fame and receiving the Ed Wagner Leadership and Friend of the Industry awards," Incoming TIA President Mason Hess said.
"On behalf of the Association, we extend our congratulations and are honored to recognize these amazing individuals who have proven themselves as key industry influencers."
Littlefield has been affiliated with TIA and its predecessor trade groups since 1979, the year he became director of government affairs for the National Tire Dealers & Retreaders Association (NTDRA). TIA was created in 2003 by the merger of the Tire Association of North America (successor of the NTDRA) and the International Tire & Rubber Association (successor of the American Retreaders' Association – ARA).
Littlefield's also was active for a time with the ARA as a part-time director of government affairs. He also served as executive director of the Washington/Maryland Service Station and Automotive Repair Association.
Barry, a Baltimore tire dealer and a three-term president of the National Tire Dealers Association (NTDA – a predecessor the NTDRA), played a pivotal role in helping the organization survive and evolve in its early years, guiding it through two evolutionary name changes, the Great Depression and World War II.
He was elected NTDA president in 1931, 1932 and 1933 during an era deemed particularly important in the NTDA's history, because the trade group was suffering financially in the throes of the Great Depression that began in August 1929.
Barry made sure the NTDA remained focused on independent dealers and fought to hold it together. He championed a new retail code of ethics for both tire and battery distribution and helped organize the "Code Convention" in 1934, along with Code Authority Chairman Norwal P. Trimborn.
During his time as NTDA president in the early 1930s, Barry oversaw a move to lead the association association back to independence; financial relations with the Rubber Manufacturers Association ceased at year-end 1933 and tire factory-affiliated dealers were excluded from membership.
In 1934, he accepted the role of director of the NTDA, which changed its name to the National Tire and Battery Association, and remained director through through 1945 and helped guide the NTBA during World War II and rubber rationing.
In addition to his work with the trade group, he was a member of the executive committee and chairman of the Surplus Property Committee for the renamed National Association of Independent Tire Dealers.
Barry's roots in the industry started in 1918 with the founding of a Hood Tire-affiliated tire dealership in Baltimore. He added automotive service to the mix in 1928, becoming a "one stop" automotive shop. The business morphed into a Lincoln-Mercury distributorship in 1955; it was still in operation at the time of his death at the age of 65 in 1955.
Niemi is considered a leader in developing markets for tire-derived aggregate (TDA), which has many civil engineering applications. He was instrumental in creating the market, formulating material specifications and working with civil engineers on various projects leading to construction design specifications.
His work with ASTM committees in creating standards has assisted in expanding the markets for this recycled material. Millions of pounds of scrap tire material have been recycled into TDA through Niemi's efforts. He also shares his expertise with others in the industry through conference presentations, industry committees and public works meetings.
Niemi is a member of TIA's Environmental Advisory Council and was responsible for developing the TDA definitions and information found in the EAC Glossary.
The Ed Wagner Leadership Award is presented to individuals or companies that demonstrate leadership or innovation in products and services that foster and promote the tire, retreading and/or tire recycling industries.