LET US HEAR IT FROM THE TIRE SPECIALISTS
Federpneus General meeting
Service quality, ongoing training and generational change were the hot topics: all retailers associated with Federpneus are determined to make the most of the current economic upturn
“Upswing”, “upturn”, “ recovery”…. the media’s current register predicts a cautious optimism for the future. In this positive atmosphere for both the Italian economy and the automotive sector, the Federpneus General Meeting took place last June the 18th: “ We read in the newspapers that the great recession, some say the greatest recession of the industrial era, is coming to an end. The problem is, that this hope is not translating into real benefits for company’s Income Statements” said, opening the proceedings of the General Meeting, Guido Schiavon, President of Federpneus. High-end products progressively see their market share being eroded by second and third choice products, to the point that a number of manufacturers have revised their price lists downwards and the numbers relating to transport and earth moving vehicles are dropping.
“ This being said – continues Schiavon – stating that, as a category we feel rather fortunate may sound like a provocation. In reality it is true, considering that we are the only sector of the automotive industry certain to see the client at least every six months, thanks to seasonal tire substitutions, with all the relative implications in commercial terms, something that is just impossible for, say, body shops”.
And this is also the reason why disruptions by other categories multiply, leading to a struggle for survival that is negative for both the category and manufacturers, as improvised operators will hardly promote a policy of premium brands competing through cheaper second or even third choice parts.
“That is why manufacturers need to think for a moment on how to involve us retailers and perhaps convince other associations on the importance of providing a high quality service, something that only a specialized retailer can guarantee”.
A matter of performance
Schiavon further underlined how important performances are for the category: “ Unfortunately, it is no longer possible to publish a national price list due to antitrust laws. However, service represents the real lifeline for the sector in order to counteract, for example, online sales, a difficult phenomenon to defeat. Nevertheless, whoever purchases tires through the internet still needs someone to install them”.
Faced with a rapid change in the purchasing culture, which sees even leasing companies impose increasingly tough conditions on both operators and manufacturers, Mr. Schiavon pointed out how difficult it has become to recognize the competence of a specialized dealer as long as there are people willing to use unfair business practices.
At first sight, even looking at what is happening over the border, the impression is that all countries are facing the same issues: “ The British NTDA, came to visit us to propose a collaboration at European level, in raising awareness over the uncontrolled sale of second-hand tires and the need for higher labeling controls. In this case no one can say that a problem shared is a problem halved, and on certain issues nobody has a magic wand”.
Yet, these problems should not cast a shadow over the association’s positive results: “ Failure in promoting the seasonal tire change would have resulted in millions of tires less on the market and probably many workshops would have closed. Every cure, however, has its contraindications as for example the pronounced seasonality of the business. We are in fact working hard towards a greater flexibility, even though a few regulatory obstacles must be overcome”.
Although VAT evasion still remains a substantially unresolved issue, the work performed by Federpneus has produced good results, as well as other activities that have originated within the offices of Federpneus. Few people know in fact, that in terms of EOL tires disposal, the mandatory consortia of producers arrangement was an idea of the late Luigi Degli Esposti, who recently passed away and one of the founders of the association in his role as secretary, who proposed it in 1990 during a round table with the Ministry of Environment.
Keeping pace with new opportunities
With TPMS sensors, electronics - the true backbone of the vehicle of the future - makes its debut in the tire industry. It represents an opportunity for the category - emphasizes Schiavon - to become familiar with this technology so as to take advantage of new job opportunities and keep up with the times. And now, after the inauguration of the new Headquarters near Bologna last year, while updating and training are no longer an issue, the project around a Federpneus Quality Mark, guaranteeing the competence and reliability of a retailer, is currently in stand-by.
Moving on to more typically associative matters, and remembering the elections soon to follow, Schiavon said he hopes that the new board will identify young professionals to introduce to the Federpneus activities, so as to bring in new blood and promote that generational change essential for a healthy association that can count on a solid structure, both in terms of capital and relationships. In this regard Mr. Schiavon mentioned both the Pneurama magazine as well as its Weekly issue, which give Federpneus the opportunity to talk to the whole industry and strengthen the already close relationships with both AICA and AIRP, as well as other associations that represent the driving force behind the Autopromotec Trade Fair.
“What we are still lacking – concluded Mr. Schiavon – is a bit of confidence in ourselves, a category that, despite the many problems, is alive and kicking and will continue to be so for a very long time, since vehicles without tires are still an uncommon sight on our roads, and will continue to be so for a very long time”.
The financial status
The association Treasurer Giancarlo Veronesi intervened to describe the evolution of the financial statements for the years 2013 and 2014 and the budget estimates for the following two years.
The investment of part of the association’s reserves in promotional initiatives for the category, such as viral videos on the internet and pennants distributed to all members, decided by the board in 2013, explains why expenditures have exceeded by a few tens of thousands of euro the 2013 revenues. In 2014 the reserves have increased again as revenues exceeded the costs. For the next two years, a breakeven between income and expenditure is expected. The report of the Treasurer was unanimously approved.
In unity there is strength
The debate that followed saw many members agree on the urgency for the association to invest in personnel training and in young professionals willing to assert the quality of service. Federpneus has the mission to continue to provide meaningful assistance to its members and simultaneously involve young people through the use of new technological tools, encouraging and stimulating them, taking them by the hand and leading them into the association allowing them to touch the benefits that come from belonging to it. The new headquarters are a real source of pride, a real showcase for the association, which provides the opportunity to do things that were previously impossible.
The category must regain confidence in itself and join forces in order to protect their interests and anticipate future challenges, certain that Federpneus will continue to be, today as well as tomorrow, a meeting point for all those specialized retailers that set expertise and competence as their priorities.
ASSOCIATION OFFICERS 2015-2019
This year’s elective meeting was particularly important. After four years, since the last vote, the members were asked to elect 11 council members who will then have the right to co-opt other members.
Balduzzi Alessandro (La Genovese Gomme - Sardegna), Lazzarini Gabriele (Lazzarini Pneuservice – Veneto), Lauriola Antonella (Driver Italia - Lombardia), Marchesini Massimo (Marchesini Pneumatici – Emilia Romagna), Masi Domenico (Lentisco Gomme – Lazio), Prosdocimi Marco (Goodyear SuperService – Lombardia), Scapini Gianluca (Scapini Gianluca – Veneto), Schiavon Guido (Consorzio Gommisti Specialisti TSC), Veronesi Giancarlo (Pneus Estense – Emilia Romagna), Vitale Antonio (Professional Pneus – Campania), Zotta Stefano (Pneusmarket – Trentino Alto Adige) are the names that came out of the vote counting. Corrado Bergagna and Alberto Piombo were confirmed as Auditors along with newly elected Anna Maria Roncarati.
The Council completed the offices confirming Guido Schiavon as President, Renzo Servadei as the Association Secretary General and Giancarlo Veronesi as Vice-president and Treasurer.