Law enforcement officers across the world know T.J. Tennent and his cherry red Ferrari well, with many of them working to track him down even now, as you read these words. That said, you won’t find any “Wanted” posters of him at any police stations – or if you do, it’s simply a sign that officers will try anything to learn even a smidgeon of his niche tire forensics knowledge.
“If there’s a tire that fails and causes an accident, my phone will ring. My phone rings every single day, it rings nonstop,” he says. “I teach law enforcement what to look for, when to take the tire off, what to document… right now, to this day, we’re the only company [Tennent and Associates] in the world that teaches that.”
T.J., aka “The Tyre Guy,” cut his teeth in the tire industry in the early 2000s working as a field engineer at Bridgestone Americas. As a hobby (which remains to this day in true tire enthusiast fashion), T.J. would go to new car lots and inspect the tires, snapping pictures of anomalies that caught his eye and sending them to the Bridgestone corporate office. This behavior caught the attention of Bridgestone executive in Japan, Katsu Kajimoto, who convinced T.J. to move to the Land of the Rising Sun to take on what became a variety of roles, including those in motorcycle and kart tire R&D and engineering management with Firestone’s light truck products.
Eventually, T.J. landed in Firestone’s consumer and government product division, and that’s when he started becoming the go-to guy for police organizations looking for answers when a tire blew out.
“In their report, they would say ‘well, the tire just blew out.’ I thought it was a better idea to train them on knowing why it blew out. What was the root cause analysis? What were other causes and evidence that you saw on the tire?” he says. “And, that just took off. I mean, that just got ridiculous.”
So ridiculous, in fact, that T.J. ended up retiring from Bridgestone to start what he referred to as his “essentially real-life-NCIS” tire investigation consultant business in 2018. In addition, T.J. has also built a bit of an empire out of divulging his vast tire analysis and forensics wisdom to not just law enforcement officers, but also tire dealers, technicians, courtroom lawyers and anyone else who wants to learn his secrets, via classes he calls “productions.”
“Let me explain: I love tires. If you ever see me teach a class, I’m literally running around. I’m in a sweat at the end of the day,” he says. “I’ll tell jokes because the humorous spin keeps people’s attention, and I don’t just teach the technical stuff. I teach about success in life.”
T.J. says he doesn’t run his business just to make money; simply knowing others are absorbing his knowledge is the true prize, so he also produces custom videos that show off his personality and tire intelligence for his “T J Tennent” YouTube channel (look up his video “The Tyre Guy (Motorcycle Tire)” for two-and-half minutes well spent).
His advice to tire dealers is to stay on top of trends in the automotive industry and to use that knowledge to ensure customers understand how those trends will affect their tires.
“Let’s take electric vehicles and hybrid vehicles. Those require a green tire, especially, meaning they have low rolling resistance, and they’re designed for fuel-efficient vehicles. If you put a conventional tire on a hybrid or an electric vehicle, you will actually hurt the performance of that vehicle,” he says. “You don’t have to go back with the same tire as what came on the vehicle, but you need to purchase a tire designed for a fuel-efficient vehicle. Every tire manufacturer makes a green tire.”