By Wayne Williams
Building a Bridge
Extending Our Influence
The WTC Retailer ToolKit will offer solid industry information to tire and wheel retailers across the country.
The annual SEMA Wheel & Tire Council (WTC) long-range planning meeting (LRP) was held in February at SEMA’s headquarters in Diamond Bar, California. The council gathered to clarify and discuss current projects and initiatives and to explore new possibilities.
Over the course of 50 years, SEMA has established a network of OEMs, government agencies, aftermarket manufacturers and marketing companies. The LRP opened with a forward-focused presentation about building a bridge between manufacturers and the retailers who service enthusiasts in the marketplace. The presentation was focused on an initiative for the WTC to offer meaningful services to tire retailers of all sorts, from mom-and-pops to those with national footprints.
The idea is to extend SEMA benefits and knowledge through a toolbox concept called Retailer ToolKit that provides specific benefits to tire retailers. The Retailer ToolKit would outline the benefits of SEMA membership and include sample materials to answer the question, “What’s in it for me?” The goal is to expand WTC membership and create a mutually beneficial relationship for both parties.
The collection of wheel measurement databases is being strengthened by further collaboration and technology available through the SEMA Garage. Efforts include scanning data to confirm hand measurements, educating members on what is available, and building trust in the SEMA Garage to provide Tech Transfer data that could save the wheel-and-tire industry time and money.
The information shared in the Retailer Toolkit would be helpful to retailers and raise the level of professionalism in this area of the distribution channel. The initial Retailer ToolKit will contain three WTC original documents: WTC “Ride Guide,” WTC “Cleaning Guide” and WTC “Installation Guide.” The combination of the three would offer solid industry information that would benefit tire and wheel retailers across the industry.
WTC “Ride Guide”
The WTC produced the “Ride Guide” pamphlets in conjunction with Clemson University and the Clemson University International Center for Automotive Research. The “Ride Guide” offers scientific findings that quantify the change in ride characteristics on plus-sizing applications for Ford F-150 pickups and the Mazda3 compact.
WTC “Cleaning Guide”
The WTC “Cleaning Guide” is currently being polished. Once finished, the guide will help retailers and end users select the proper cleaning products for use on a wide variety of OE and aftermarket wheel finishes.
WTC “Installation Guide”
The council is revamping the “Installation Guide” to include new necessary techniques, tools and requirements such as tire-pressure monitoring systems.
John Waraniak, SEMA vice president of vehicle technology, informed the WTC general membership about customizing with confidence, new opportunities, performance strategies and vehicle electronics, including the five levels of vehicle automation from self-driven to full automation.
Waraniak outlined the key areas of customizing with confidence, highlighting categories such as engines, steering, brakes, suspensions, wheels and tires. Not one of these categories is unaffected by the staggering increase in vehicle electronics. He laid out examples of how the lifted-and-leveled truck category has gained federal compliance, receiving FMVSS 126 certification for electronic stability control.
Waraniak’s presentation ended on a very positive note in light of all the changes facing the industry and the association today. The aftermarket X factor has reached a new critical mass, he said, with 250 million aftermarket opportunities. With Motor City applications intersecting with Silicon Valley technologies, the changes are unsurpassed in the history of the automobile. The car of the future will be the most powerful computer anyone has ever owned. Currently, no one has solved all the technical challenges or claimed outright leadership.
As in the past, opportunities come dressed as challenges. There has never been a better time when a powerful and focused automotive association such as SEMA could benefit its members and produce the opportunities available today. There’s never been a better time to engage and contribute with the opportunity for mutual benefit.