Global Tire Expo 2021
TIA Celebrates its Centennial at the 2021 SEMA Show
By Douglas McColloch
The Tire Industry Association (TIA) consists of more than 13,000 members representing more than 40 countries worldwide. More than 90 companies were represented at the Global Tire Expo during the 2019 SEMA Show.
Global Tire Expo—Powered by TIA—was created in 1997 as a result of a merger of the International Tire Expo and the SEMA Show. Since then, it has grown into one of the world’s largest tire expositions under the direction of the Tire Industry Association (TIA). At the 2021 SEMA Show, the Expo hosted an annual membership meeting and honors luncheon, a trio of educational workshops, a press conference and a reception to celebrate its 100th anniversary.
TIA began its Show week at the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas, where it hosted a cocktail reception and gala that honored the association’s 100-year history. The keynote address was delivered by Rocky Bleier, former NFL champion running back and decorated Vietnam veteran, with event sponsorships provided by Goodyear and Bridgestone. Prior to that, the association held its annual membership meeting, which also featured the installation of a new TIA board president. January 1, Dick Gust assumed the helm from Dr. Roy Littlefield, who retired after 18 years at the top spot.
TIA Senior Vice President of Training Kevin Rohlwing led the TIA press conference with a discussion of the organization’s latest educational and training initiatives for 2022.
TIA is a nonprofit organization, and its mission is to promote tire safety through education and training, to act as the tire industry’s principal advocate in legislative affairs, and to represent the industry at public and industry events such as the SEMA Show. TIA offers training and certification courses in automotive, commercial, earthmover and farm tire service, and more than 150,000 technicians have completed TIA coursework.
While the COVID-19 pandemic may have roiled some sectors of the aftermarket, it failed to hamper TIA’s core mission.
TIA incoming CEO Dick Gust expressed his gratitude to Roy Littlefield, outgoing CEO, for his contributions to the industry. Gust also outlined the organization’s vision going forward.
“The pandemic didn’t make tires any safer from a technician’s standpoint,” said Kevin Rohlwing, senior vice president of training. “The hazards of servicing tires are still present, even in a pandemic, so our mission hasn’t changed. All of our programs, such as our online university, have been running throughout the year, even in a pandemic.”
As tire technology changes, the training requirements of technicians likewise change, and TIA’s educational programs have continued to evolve.
“We didn’t stop updating our programs,” Rohlwing noted. “The industry is changing, and our training programs need to evolve with those changes.”
Global Tire Expo hosts numerous hands-on technical demonstrations throughout the week of the SEMA Show, such as this one at the Hunter Engineering booth.
One of the changes TIA adopted in response to the pandemic was a new emphasis on producing outdoor training videos for use when indoor educational sessions weren’t possible due to COVID quarantine and distancing protocols. For 2022, Rohlwing announced, all videos produced under the auspices of the TIA Online University would also include closed captioning.
“Some of our board members have deaf and hard-of-hearing employees, and closed captioning makes learning much more effective for them,” Rohlwing said. “It costs us more money and it takes more time, but the board felt that it was worth the added expense.”
Additionally, TIA has scheduled updates for its Certified Commercial Tire Service program and for it Earth Mover Tire Service programs in 2022.
“We’re going to keep these programs current and relevant,” Rohlwing said.
Also for 2022, TIA announced a new partnership with Mohr Retail, a retail training and consulting firm, to launch a new educational initiative on the subject of management training.
“We don’t have the staff to support something like this, so we’ve partnered with Mohr on a program we piloted last year,” Rohlwing said. “It was a retail training program teaching managers to be better leaders. It also taught about conflict resolution and how to better motivate people.”
The response to the program was positive, Rohlwing noted, “so we came up with a weekly program that’s more aimed to the commercial side of the business. The response we’ve gotten has been fantastic. We’re excited about the future prospects of it, and it’s something that our members have been asking for.”
The rapid growth of the off-road and overlanding markets has created opportunities for manufacturers with products specifically designed for those sectors. Big, aggressive treads were everywhere to be found at the 2021 Global Tire Expo, such as this example at the Atturo Tires booth.
An additional training program aimed at area or regional managers is in the works as well.
CEO Gust also offered his thoughts about the direction of the organization moving forward.
“My plan is to build on the great foundation that has been placed by Roy Littlefield and the rest of the TIA leadership team,” he said. “We’ve developed the most outstanding training program in the country, and it’s all because our members are concerned about safety.”