CEO Corner

By Anne Forristall Luke, USTMA President and CEO

As 2018 draws to a close, I can safely say it has been one of the most tumultuous and challenging years I can remember. It has also been a year that USTMA and our members can be proud of.  Through turbulent market conditions and a political environment so noisy and frenetic that one often didn’t know where to look first, our Association and members stayed focused on our mission, our vision, and our strategy, achieving results that position our industry well not only for 2019, but for the years to come.

Our organization championed tire safety and performance, passed first-ever unsafe used tire legislation in the state of Ohio, achieved environmental successes in the management of scrap tires, and held firm against an unpredictable executive office on issues tied to international trade and tariffs. We showcased talented tire manufacturers through our second annual Tire Ambassador Program and National Manufacturing Day, and continued to build domestic and international relationships at NHTSA, EPA, and on Capitol Hill, with industry and global trade association stakeholders and with key state legislatures and regulators. 

At the helm, we had a change in leadership, electing Stephen R. McClellan, president of The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company’s Americas business as the 2018-20 chair of USTMA’s Board of Directors, and thanking Jim Hawk, chairman, Toyo Holdings of America, Inc., who served as USTMA’s Board Chair since 2016. Our organization welcomed two new staff members, Sean Moore as Director of Government Relations and Kim Kleine as Vice President for Public Affairs. And in October, our Board adopted a new 3-year strategic plan that’s already well underway.

On the Front Lines with Advocacy

In 2018, trade and environmental issues played a major role in the USTMA advocacy environment. We marshalled numerous efforts in response to the Administration’s trade positions on tariffs imposed under Section 301, Section 232, and with regard to NAFTA. We sustained productive engagements with EPA on industry-critical regulatory programs under the Clean Air Act and Toxic Substances Control Act to protect our members’ freedom to operate and innovate. We nurtured important partnerships to bolster our resources and results, leveraging industry data generated by the Tire Industry Project (TIP) and other global regional trade associations, and led a coalition of five downstream manufacturing trade associations (USTMA, American Forest and Paper Association, Motor Vehicle Equipment Manufacturers Association, PLASTICS, and the Toy Industry Association) to amplify our voice.

And maintaining our focus on tire performance and safety, USTMA advanced the industry’s priority strategic initiatives on the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act. We strengthened our working relationships and value as a respected resource with NHTSA, including influential new leaders at the agency, and supported our regulatory advocacy through a bipartisan, bicameral government relations effort on the Hill. In a significant sign of progress, NHTSA’s fall regulatory agenda, released in October, noticed its plans to move forward with rules to implement the FAST Act tire performance standards. 

Our state legislative lobbying efforts on unsafe used tires paid off with a victory in Ohio. On Tuesday, December 11, Ohio Governor John Kasich signed into law USTMA-supported legislation to prohibit the installation of unsafe used tires. Senate Bill 223 (LaRose et al.) was introduced at the request of USTMA and supported by a broad coalition of state and national partners, including all USTMA member companies, the Ohio Chamber of Commerce, Ohio Manufacturers Association, Ohio Conference of AAA Clubs, Ohio Tire and Automotive Association, the Property Casualty Insurance Association and the Tire Industry Association. Ohio is the third state to enact such a law, joining Colorado and New Jersey.

What we stand for: Safety through innovation, economic value and environmental stewardship

Continuing to deliver on the investment in the reputation of the US. tire manufacturing industry that began with our rebrand last year, USTMA pursued an active engagement strategy to reinforce our industry’s value to society. USTMA members’ commitment to safety through innovation is our industry’s top priority, and we underscore this theme with policymakers and stakeholders at every opportunity to help them understand tires as the highly engineered, technological marvels they are. We continue to highlight the economic impact study demonstrating the substantial contribution that our industry makes to the nation in jobs, economic output and taxes. And for a second year, USTMA brought a select group of USTMA member employees to Capitol Hill to share our industry’s story of community investment and economic impact, as well as discussing the ramifications of the Administration’s Section 232 trade investigation. Our Tire Manufacturing Ambassadors held more than 20 meetings with Congressional offices over a 2-day period, and we created this video to help spread the word about our industry’s greatest resource – our people.

Sustainability: A Driving Force for Our Industry

As your trade organization, we know each of your companies is serious about balancing your economic development with social development and environmental protection. Sustainability underscores your collective values and operating principles and drives industry solutions that make a difference. From a long heritage supporting your communities to reducing your environmental footprints, to charitable causes, to creating products that advance safety and boost vehicle fuel efficiency, you have been and remain focused on issues of sustainability. This year, USTMA embarked on a year-long effort to research and catalog the important work being undertaken around sustainable practices in all of our member companies. 

And we are close to finalizing the first-ever U.S. tire manufacturing sustainability report which we expect to roll out publicly in January. As I reflect on the important work you have undertaken, and the innovations you are pursuing, it’s clear to me that our members’ efforts around sustainability are foundational and integrated into the way you conduct your businesses. It is a culture – a catalyst mindset – anchored in the way you think about your products, people, manufacturing plants and our planet. USTMA is deeply proud of your accomplishments and excited to be able to showcase them in our upcoming report.

End-of-Life Tires

Effective scrap tire management is a core part of our sustainability mission. Ensuring scrap tires are used in environmentally and economically sustainable markets is a never-ending job – as annual generation increases over time, markets for scrap tires must grow proportionally. For the past 30 years, USTMA has worked with state partners to help advance legislation and regulations that promote the management of scrap tires and market development.

In July of this year, we released a report on the state of scrap tire management in the U.S. The headline: Over 81 percent of scrap tires are re-used in products such as tire-derived fuel, rubber modified asphalt and other products. In 1991, when USTMA first started its efforts to re-purpose scrap tires, only one in ten was re-used and there were more than one billion scrap tires in stockpiles. In 2017, there were roughly 60 million tires in stockpiles, a 94 percent decrease. 

Looking at the next several years, USTMA’s Scrap Tire Program will focus on two primary areas of future growth: tire-derived fuel and rubber modified asphalt. Tire-derived fuel in industrial applications consumed about 106 million scrap tires in 2017. Rubber modified asphalt can be used to build safer and more durable roads than other traditional types of asphalt. In 2019, USTMA will continue our work with stakeholders in states to increase awareness for the benefits of these two products.

Mid-term Elections & 2019 Outlook

As we look toward 2019, USTMA is readying for the political leadership and policy shifts brought on by November’s mid-term elections. The sweeping changes in the U.S. House of Representatives, governors’ offices and state legislatures will materially impact the legislative and regulatory operating environment for our industry.

USTMA expects heightened interest in environmental issues including the implementation of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), the law that gives the Environmental Protection Agency the authority to manage, assess and regulate all chemicals in commerce – including those used in manufacturing tires. Throughout 2018, USTMA has been working with EPA to ensure a robust federal approach to chemical management, efforts which we’re confident will continue to serve our industry well in the new Congress.

With Democrats setting the agenda next year, we also expect an onslaught of oversight hearings and greater scrutiny of efforts by the Trump Administration to roll back regulations.  This is a key reason why a credible reputation and strong relationships with policy makers are so important.

With that in mind, this fall USTMA initiated a program to further enhance our industry’s profile on Capitol Hill. From late September into late October, USTMA met with 19 congressional offices – encompassing members of both parties who sit on committees of jurisdiction for tire industry issues and who also represent districts in which our members have facilities. USTMA also met with top staff for the House committees on Ways and Means and Transportation and Infrastructure. These conversations were used to introduce our new director of government relations, to reinforce USTMA messaging on key priorities, and to hear from staff about their expected agenda for the 116th Congress.

USTMA will resume these efforts early in 2019, meeting the freshmen who represent USTMA member facilities and those serving on committees with which USTMA expects to work closely, including on issues like infrastructure investment, which has broad bipartisan support and significant potential to advance market development for rubber-modified asphalt.

Global Work

Concerns related to tire materials continue to arise and accelerate globally, including evaluations of the toxicity of several chemicals used in tire-making by the governments of the U.S., Europe and Canada, concerns about the contribution of tire wear particles to marine pollution being raised in Europe and the U.S., and studies on crumb rubber being undertaken in Europe, the U.S. and Japan.

These governments are all sharing information and coordinating in their efforts to evaluate and regulate materials, including tire materials, for human health and environmental impacts. That’s why, in 2017, USTMA developed the Global Dialogue Framework to strengthen our ability to present a unified tire manufacturing industry view to regional governments and stakeholders. In June of this year, we convened the second Global Dialogue meeting in Washington, DC, which was attended by the leaders of USTMA, the European Tire and Rubber Manufacturers’ Association (ETRMA), the Japan Automobile Tyre Manufacturers Association (JATMA), the Tire and Rubber Association of Canada (TRAC), the Korea Tire Manufacturers Association (KOTMA) and the WBCSD’s Tire Industry Project. This global collaboration is already paying dividends as we share scientific studies and other knowledge needed to ensure our respective regulators have the information they need to make sound decisions that protect both our global environment and tire manufacturers’ freedom to operate and innovate around the world.

In Closing

USTMA continues to work hard to accomplish the objectives that will improve your ability to stay competitive, drive economic growth, and create opportunity for your employees and the communities you serve. Thank you for your membership, participation and partnership. Here’s to a successful and prosperous 2019!

Additional News:

Mar 22, 2019

TIRE BUSINESS: Sustainable natural rubber body takes wing, eyes standards harmonization

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Mar 21, 2019

POLITICO: Trump administration withholds report justifying 'shock' auto tariffs

POLITICO: Trump administration withholds report justifying 'shock' auto tariffs The Commerce Department's February finding that major tariffs on foreign cars can be justified on national... Learn more »

Mar 05, 2019

U.S. TIRE SHIPMENTS EXPECTED TO DECREASE IN 2019

WASHINGTON, DC, March 5, 2019 – U.S. Tire Manufacturers Association (USTMA) projects 2019 U.S. tire shipments will decrease to 327 million units compared to 329.4 million units in 2018. USTMA is the... Learn more »

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