WTC Inducts Two Into Hall of Fame at 2014 SEMA Show
Amid the hustle and bustle of the 2014 SEMA Show at the Las Vegas Convention Center, members of the Wheel & Tire Council (WTC) took the time one evening to network, reunite with old friends, enjoy food and beverages, and honor two members by welcoming them into the WTC Hall of Fame.
The WTC Hall of Fame isn’t just about being successful in the aftermarket wheel and tire industry; it’s about making a lasting impact on a national level. To paraphrase a quote from Apple founder Steve Jobs, SEMA Hall of Fame recipients “make a dent in the universe” by enhancing the technology, professionalism, dignity and stature of the industry. Against a backdrop of the glamour of Las Vegas as well as the automotive industry’s brightest stars and hottest products, the WTC inducted David Insull and Joe Schaefer into this prestigious circle. Chair-Elect Joe Findeis introduced the new inductees by saying, “David Insull and Joe Schaefer have made immeasurable contributions to both the wheel and tire sector and to the automotive aftermarket in general. Their leadership is one of the reasons we’re here tonight celebrating an industry with tremendous growth potential.”
While David Insull has a long history as a motorhead, he didn’t get his automotive start in specialty wheels and tires. In a 2008 interview with SEMA, Insull told the story of how he grew up working on family vehicles with his dad. As the years went by, he started hanging out with a group of friends who worked on each other’s cars, and he eventually ended up working for a Sears Automotive Center while in college.
Despite Insull’s skill with a wrench, his greatest impact has been in the aftermarket wheel and tire sector. During his tenure at American Tire Distributors, he’s managed a category that covers everything from OE replacements to lifted truck and SUV wheel products, and he has achieved sales of over one million units per year. During his tenure on the WTC select committee, Insull dedicated himself to growing membership and developing relationships throughout the wheel and tire industry. As the council’s chair, Insull led the way on some of the industry’s most pressing issues, such as the development of the SAE Standard J-2530, tire-pressure management systems and electronic stability control. Insull was inducted into the WTC Hall of Fame because of these accomplishments as well as his dedication and leadership.
WTC Chair Joe Schaefer shares David Insull’s fascination with anything automotive. He’s done everything from racing to building custom hot rods and wheels. However, he entered the industry by a very different path. Schaefer started out as a NASCAR driver sponsored by a wheel company. After an injury forced him to seek a different line of work, he spent a number of years in retail management. He eventually went to work with wheel innovator Konig American, where he now serves as president.
As WTC chair, Schaefer has focused on growing the industry through technology, inclusion and education. One of his initiatives has been to encourage more tire companies to join the council. Schaefer also believes that educating the younger generation is essential to the sector’s growth. Schaefer’s accomplishments as well as his professionalism, integrity, dedication and desire to grow the industry make him an obvious choice for this award.
Educating for the Future
One example of WTC’s commitment to growing the wheel and tire market through education is the “Ride Guide,” a collaboration between the Clemson University International Center for Automotive Research and WTC. The research used simulation-testing data to evaluate the effects plus-size wheels and tires have on ’09–’14 F-150s. The guide covers factors such as section width, sidewall height and outside diameter and how they affect things such as directional response, steering speed response, ride comfort, road grip and steering firmness response.
The goal is to help everyone in the wheel and tire industry increase sales by giving them tools that will help guide customers through the buying process. Armed with the information in the “Ride Guide,” sales staff will be able to help customers narrow their options and confidently purchase the wheel/tire package that will achieve the desired result. The guide also includes tire-safety tips. Research is currently in the works to provide the same information for other fullsize trucks as well as for compact sedans.