By Steve Campbell
Honoring a WTC Pioneer
Fenton Liffick was honored as the WTC Person of the Year in 2004, was presented with the WTC Lifetime Achievement Award in 2010, and was also given service awards in 2005 and 2013.
Fenton Liffick has more than 67 years of experience in manufacturing, engineering, sales and metal and plastic finishing. He’s been involved in the automotive, truck and RV wheel and wheel accessory industries for 61 of those years, both for the auto manufacturers and for aftermarket companies. He was a founding member of the Wheel Industry Council (WIC), the precursor to today’s Wheel & Tire Council (WTC), and he felt honored when he saw his name listed as one of the wheel industry pioneers during the WTC reception at the 2016 SEMA Show. At the age of 90, he continues to enjoy the wheel business and the many friends he has made within it.
“My first exposure to the wheel industry was in the fall of 1955, when I was assigned by my employer to provide technical service in the use of finishing chemicals by Kelsey-Hayes in Michigan and its French & Hecht farm-implement wheel division in Iowa,” he said. “Over the following eight years, I received a thorough education in the manufacturing and finishing of steel wheels at those two companies.”
His first break into the aftermarket wheel industry was the design of a center anode assembly for the plating of steel wheel rims at Caltron Plating shortly after his February 1963 arrival in Los Angeles as a technical sales rep for MacDermid Inc. He subsequently helped Keystone Automotive convert from being a bumper refinisher to a wheel manufacturer and finisher, and he helped SEMA Hall of Famer Ray Bleiweis set up his plating operations when Bleiweis founded Rocket Industries.
Liffick continued to use his background in manufacturing and finishing to help several aftermarket wheel pioneers until he was hired as general manager for Keystone Automotive in January of 1967. He also attended the inaugural SEMA Show that same year when it debuted at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles. He has attended more than three dozen of them since then, and, he said, “They just keep getting bigger and more mind-bending every year.”
In addition to his other industry accomplishments, Liffick was instrumental in developing the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) J2530 standard, which is a recommended practice that provides performance and sampling requirements, test procedures and marking requirements for aftermarket wheels used on passenger cars, light trucks and multipurpose passenger vehicles. As a member of the WTC technical committee, Liffick helped refine the standard and persuade the SAE to adopt it.
His extensive résumé includes positions ranging from plating superintendent and chief chemist to plant manager and technical manager to vice president of manufacturing and engineering for various companies. He was honored as the WTC Person of the Year in 2004, was presented with the WTC Lifetime Achievement Award in 2010, and was also given service awards in 2005 and 2013.
“I celebrated my 90th birthday in September with family, friends and business associates,” he said. “It was a great day, and in 90 years, my good days have far, far exceeded the bad.”
WTC Introduces the “Wheel Care Guide”
The WTC is proud to announce the release of the “Wheel Care Guide.” The guide will serve as a valuable resource for manufacturers, retailers and consumers alike. Proper cleaning and maintenance techniques are outlined in the “Wheel Care Guide,” for various categories of wheels and tires. This material will be available for manufacturers to place in their packaging, whether shipping direct to consumer or to a distributor or retailer. Retailers are able to place the guide on their counters as a free resource to their customers—a standout customer-service component.
The WTC continues to take on new initiatives and create valuable resources for its membership. To access the “Wheel Care Guide,” along with all of the WTC resources, visit www.sema.org/wtc.