The Irish Tyre Industry Association (ITIA) held its AGM and Conference at the Hodson Bay Hotel, Athlone on Thursday, 31st March after a two-year hiatus because of Covid-19, John Loughran reports.
The ITIA AGM and Conference afforded members the opportunity to meet and network for the first time since Covid, and discuss issues facing the tyre trade. Members expressed their delight at being able to meet and network again after a two-year break.
Sue O’Neill, CEO, ITIA remarked: “The Conference gave members a great opportunity to hear about the latest technology updates for the industry along with general business topics.”
The Conference got underway with a talk from Ethan Davenport of BH SENS, who spoke on the advantages of Direct and Indirect TPMS, universal and multiple variant sensors and the uses for TPMS diagnostic tools for the tyre industry.
James Long of TU Dublin also delivered an insightful presentation on Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) and their advancement within the motor industry. Both of these presentations provided much debate amongst members.
The importance of digital for business and digital trends were explored, particularly looking at how consumers are behaving online, the changes in buying behaviour and where businesses need to be to grow in this space. The onset of Cyber Security as real threat for companies and the importance of data security also provided much food for thought. Oonagh McCutcheon, Corporate Communications Manager with .IE delivered this very insightful session.
A key focus of the Conference was the challenge for member companies in relation to the recruitment and retention of talent. Emma Crowley, HR Executive at the Small Firms Association provided valuable information in relation to Employment Law including the incoming Statutory Sick Pay, the right to request remote working and the right to disconnect.
The Q&A session that followed gave members plenty of opportunity to discuss targeted employment issues. The discussion on employment was expanded with a review of the current ITIA Tyre Technician Training Programme, which was given by Hugh Connor of the Athlone Training Centre and Longford Westmeath Education and Training Board.
The Third Programme is getting under way this month and the programme is now being developed into a Traineeship programme, which aims to provide a solution that will attract new talent into the industry. The programme will extend to include the new technologies that were discussed at the conference which will no doubt prove to be products and services that tyre companies of the future will provide.
Speaking about the Conference Sue O’Neill commented: “We we thrilled to be back meeting in person as it really gives for so much more debate. It was great to hear from members about what is happening on the ground and of course it was great for members to get to catch up with each other.”
She continued: “We are really looking forward to a great year in 2022 where we can develop our training programme and deliver it more widely and also see where we can help members to look at new technologies and opportunities for their business. I am hoping that we will see more companies join us so that we can ensure that the industry continues to grow and is attractive for new recruits as a career choice.”
Keynote speaker at the Dinner, which followed the Conference was Sam Waide, Chief Executive of the Road Safety Authority who spoke about the importance of collaboration between both the RSA, ITIA and An Garda Siochána in promoting road safety. Mr Waide spoke of the importance of all our organisations collectively driving home the message of tyre safety and maintenance with the general public and in the workplace. He also welcomed the support of the ITIA in providing industry advice and support to RSA.
The evening finished with entertainment and a charity raffle in aid of Bumbelance, which the ITIA has supported for the last two years. The raffle raised over €1,000. In addition, a signed and framed Lions Tour 2020 Jersey, which was very kindly donated by Derek Murphy of Euro Tyre Sales, raised €4,500 at auction and was bought jointly by Midland Tyres and Daly Tyres.