UNITED TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE
FEDERPNEUS GENERAL ASSEMBLY
The tyre world is going through a stage of significant changes in legislation that are redefining the sector. All of which is taking place in the middle of a world recession. This and much more was discussed at the general assembly of the Italian Tyre Specialists' Association
The general assembly of Federpneus (the Italian Tyre Specialists' Association) could not be without an in-depth analysis of the tyre market at an historic moment marked by a world recession that has raised questions about modern society and is still the spectre of an uncertain future.
Tyre specialists met in Bologna last July to discuss the situation in the sector and to elect the new board of directors, which in its turn reconfirmed Guido Schiavon as chairman, and appointed Alessandro Balduzzi as vice chairman in addition to the other positions.
The chairman's report
The meeting was opened by the chairman, Guido Schiavon, who began by describing the financial picture and the activities of the association.
"It is an important moment" - Schiavon emphasized - "As you know, just under two years have passed since the explosion of the biggest economic crisis since the depression of ‘29. It is a crisis that has taken numerous victims, some of them famous, some of them silent, even in sectors connected to ours.
"For example, try counting how many car dealerships have had to close in your area and think about the health of those that have remained. Think about the fleets that, despite having a union that is powerful enough to paralyze Italy, no longer have liquidity. Think about the mechanics themselves, many of whom are unable to continue. And what about us? What is Federpneus doing?"
Schiavon talked about the association's activities which, in addition to a series of services such as technical and legal consultancy, statistics and others, are mainly political to protect the interests of the category. "Nowadays, talking about politics takes on an almost derogatory tone. But politics is an art that is not only noble but, if done well, brings results that can change the destiny of a sector because, generally, nothing happens by chance".
Schiavon also mentioned the important initiative "Winter in safety", a joint activity with Assogomma and Federpneus as part of the "Keeping tabs on tyres" campaign that has given extraordinary results in the winter tyre segment in terms of increases in demand and attention by institutions and authorities.
"The idea at the basis of the campaign was conceived over ten years ago at a meeting between Federpneus and manufacturers. Next year, in addition to greater coordination of the regulations, we hope there will be a strong initiative for trucks, a sector that needs special attention".
Obviously, reference was made to the regulations about used tyres, possible developments and initial problems at start up, and the fight against VAT avoidance in the tyre sector, "in some areas it is a real predicament. How can you compete with someone who has a fraudulent margin of 20% today and, perhaps, 21% tomorrow? We are working hard on this subject in concert with other associations, but evidently we are being obstructed by important interests as our proposal has not yet been passed. Naturally, lobbying is also through communication and we are funding a continual communication campaign".
Talking about significant partnerships, the chairman mentioned Assoruote, a member of Federpneus, which has achieved important successes.
There are many subjects to be investigated and tackled, some of which "we must again analyze with the manufacturers. One concerns agreements with leasing companies. At one time they were a source of income, but today they are a problem. Given that nobody works at a loss it is obvious that under certain conditions it is service that suffers. It is also true that this is not the best of times for these companies, however I believe that the current situation will create problems for them because without service they will have dissatisfied customers. As we know, nowadays customers are increasingly knowledgeable and if they are dissatisfied they will go somewhere else".
Schiavon also talked about further developments in sector regulations, from labelling to the new servicing protocol with the provision for more efficient checks of tyres, tuning and so on.
"We must be ready from a technical as well as a commercial point of view. As far as the technical aspect is concerned, the association will inform its members; as to the commercial aspect, considerable attention should be given to the current stage: you all know about the big increases in raw materials and the shortages caused by considerable absorption by some markets, China first and foremost. This is the time to look at your profit and loss account so that strategies can be pursued with greater effectiveness. With a global economy it is difficult to make forecasts because a problem in one hemisphere could have worldwide consequences, and as far as we know, this situation could continue until the end of the year at least".
Going on to more association-related aspects and changes to the board of directors, Schiavon emphasized that "the outgoing board was characterized by huge passion and I would like to thank all the directors, but allow me to mention one in particular: our dear friend and vice chairman, Piero Corti, who has already announced that he will not stand for re-election. We did not always agree with Corti, on the contrary! But in his case I believe that we can say his feeling for Federpneus is not just fondness but genuine love".
To conclude, Schiavon talked briefly about future projects pointing out that "a managerial class must know how to open up roads. And in synergy with the other associations in our pool, Aica and Airp, we aim to become a real pole for the aftermarket. Perhaps it is too ambitious a project, but great things cannot be achieved without a pinch of madness!".
A farewell from the vice chairman
After 28 years on the Federpneus board of directors and many years as vice chairman, Piero Corti has decided not to stand for re-election.
"I would like to share my long experience with you, tell you about what I have learned from my work with a trade association like ours: we have a better knowledge of our work as tyre specialists and therefore we love it more. We have a more real understanding of the market by increasing our experience, we prepare ourselves to enjoy the positive moments and to cope with negative times with greater strength thanks to the opinions and experience contributed by all our colleagues, starting with the board of directors with which we share the work. We are close to the directors of the manufacturing companies, who worry as much as we do about developing sales and establishing their brands; we talk with them about creating synergies that will bring consumers closer to our products, stimulate the market and increasingly believe in the link between road safety and tyres: ‘the jewel in the crown is the winter safety campaign'. We also understand that all colleagues, in whatever part of the country, have the same problems, whether they be commercial, administrative or marketing. We receive urgent requests to fight illegal forms of selling products and on this aspect we work with the relevant authorities to urge the necessary provisions for protecting the category and the market. We are closer to the feelings of disappointment in colleagues whose shared experiences become our experiences and help us to avoid making the wrong moves with regard to our shops and to Federpneus, which represents us".
Corti mentioned many of the association's major exponents, the work carried out and the value of the association: "But I would like to encourage those colleagues who have not yet joined Federpneus to do so at the earliest, perhaps even today, to put an end to a solitude that certainly does not help the category and diminishes its strength. Every day the market becomes more difficult so we must be ready to give the right answers at the right time. In Federpneus talking about things together makes us stronger, especially if we think what our work does for the future of our children and grandchildren".
The institutional reports were followed by a debate which highlighted the sector's needs, worries about sales, and the most pressing problems.
Fears for the future, the need for greater drive by the association, stronger links with the base, where some of the thoughts expressed by those present. The importance of intensifying relationships with sister associations and stronger synergies with Airp also emerged. The assembly elected the new board of directors and indicated the guidelines for the association's future activities.
Board appointments - 2011-2015