Origins of the WTC

SEMA Member News—May/June 2011

Origins of the WTC

Remembering the Past and Serving the Future

    Ed Jones (left) of Bartec USA and Russ Fuller of Revolution Supply Company
Ed Jones (left) of Bartec USA and Russ Fuller of Revolution Supply Company hosted a session entitled “TPMS Myths & Facts” at the first annual WTC Learn & Show held January 9 at SEMA headquarters in Diamond Bar, California. 
The Wheel & Tire Council (WTC) started in roughly 1996–1997 as the Wheel Industry Committee (WIC). Larry Anderson was essentially the founder; he pushed for years to create this thing and managed to get many companies—competitors, no less—in the same room for the greater good. That is no doubt why he was the first chairman and the first recipient of the WTC Person of the Year award.

The CEOs of most of the major manufacturers and importers were involved: American Racing, Ultra Wheel, Progressive, Centerline, Panther, Prime, Weld, Konig, Enkei, Mr. Lugnut, Coyote/100+ and Goal Machine to name but a few. Many became members of the original Select Committee.

Within two years after it was established, WIC became a SEMA council. Some of the original participants either didn’t participate as much and/or went out of business. Others replaced them, and still others stepped up, and we began to have some distributors and service providers present and, eventually, some tire folks. That has been the core group, give or take, pretty much ever since.

The council congealed around the tail end of Anderson’s term and got down to business during its second and third years. By the time I came in as the third chairman, we were already under way with projects, such as completing the Aftermarket Wheel Installation Poster and the J2530 standard. The next chairman was George Finch, then Kelly Austin and now Tim Dietz, to be followed by David Insull.

As we recognized the importance, input and impact of the tire guys (who gave essential feedback on the poster and were always there whenever we needed them), we knew that they needed to be included. We changed the organization’s name to the Wheel & Tire Council.

The only council younger than WTC is the Street Performance Council. We’ve accomplished quite a bit in a short time and will continue to represent the industry.

2011 WTC Learn & Show

During the WTC Learn & Show, industry leaders displayed their newest products to attendees. 
The inaugural WTC Learn & Show, held February 9, 2011, at SEMA’s Diamond Bar offices, offered three educational sessions and provided opportunities for industry leaders and peers to network and display their products. These sessions identified industry-specific challenges, sales strategies and profit-building techniques and also highlighted installer training.

Additionally, the one-day event consisted of an open meeting that allowed attendees the opportunity to participate, voice their concerns and help drive council initiatives.

Led by Russ Fuller of Revolution Supply Co. and Ed Jones of Bartec USA, the first session—“TPMS: Myths and Facts”—discussed tire-pressure monitoring system (TPMS) use, pitfalls and ways in which to profit.

“Our first showcase was a great success,” said Fuller. “WTC is committed to delivering value to all SEMA members and the end customer—the retail tire store. This conference delivered valuable education and information to all attendees. WTC looks forward to delivering more of the same throughout the year and at next year’s conference and showcase.”

The Tire Industry Association (TIA) sponsored the second session—“Training Resources for Retail Tire Technicians”—in which Sean MacKinnon, TIA’s director of automotive training development, discussed all aspects of automotive tire service. He also introduced TIA’s Certified Automotive Tire Service training program, which covered topics ranging from personal protective equipment and general shop safety practices to tire-pressure monitoring system diagnostics.

“I found the WTC Learn & Show to be an excellent experience,” said MacKinnon. “The willingness of all attendees to exchange information in order to build a more positive industry was amazing to see.”

In the third session—“Hear What the Pros Think!”—attendees listened to industry leaders provide their perspective on the industry and the trends that may shape the future. Presenters included Myles Kovacs, DUB magazine founder and president; Rich Botello, Explorer Competition; and Brock Weld, BMF Wheels.

“The WTC Learn & Show conference was a valuable resource for any retailer trying to make money in this economic environment,” said Weld. “To have industry leaders share their thoughts collectively in an informal setting is both uncommon and valuable for anyone in the wheel and tire industry.”

The educational sessions ran concurrently with the Product Showcase, which featured exhibits highlighting new products, business services and equipment. There were also some cool cars on display.

“It’s a true honor to be selected to participate in the first annual SEMA WTC show panel; sitting in the same room with industry giants is always an exciting time,” said Kovacs. “SEMA events always remind me just how powerful of an industry we have, and we all need to band together for the betterment of our entire industry.”