Published on December 27, 2013

Headline grabbers of 2013

Sketches by Leo Michael

AKRON -- The editorial staff of Tire Business has selected five newsmakers from the past year to be the publication's "Headline Grabbers" of 2013.

The five are: Roy Armes, CEO of Findlay-Ohio-based Cooper Tire & Rubber Co., and Onkar Kanwar, chairman of India's Apollo Tyres Ltd.; Hikomitsu Noji, CEO of Yokohama Tire Corp.; Seung Hwa Suh, vice chairman and CEO, Hankook Tire Co. Ltd.; and Len Lewin, president and CEO of American Car Care Centers Inc.

Cooper Tire-Apollo Tyre:

Roy Armes, CEO of Findlay-Ohio-based Cooper Tire & Rubber Co., and Onkar Kanwar, chairman of India's Apollo Tyres Ltd., have had up-and-down moments throughout 2013 as they've worked to resolve a bevy of issues holding up the planned $2.5 billion merger/acquisition of Cooper by Apollo. The two potential partners are facing off in Delaware Chancery Court, where Cooper is seeking an "expedited" completion of the deal. Apollo counters that Cooper has yet to meet all the conditions agreed to in the proposed acquisition. The companies face a Dec. 31 deadline to consummate the merger.

Yokohama Tire Corp.:

Hikomitsu Noji, CEO of Yokohama Tire Corp., headed up a team of Yokohama executives that selected West Point, Miss., as the site for the tire maker's $300 million truck tire plant that's due to start production by the fourth quarter of 2015. Meanwhile, the company's Tokyo-based Yokohama Rubber Co. Ltd. parent continued its global planting of thousands of trees at its manufacturing sites worldwide as part of a plan to create "Forests That Protect Lives."

Hankook Tire Co. Ltd.:

Seung Hwa Suh, Hankook Tire Co. Ltd. vice chairman and CEO, oversaw negotiations that led to the South Korean tire maker's selecting Clarksville, Tenn. as the site for its first U.S. tire plant, an $800 million passenger and light truck tire factory due on stream by 2016. The tire maker said it picked the site near the Tennessee-Kentucky border after evaluating dozens of potential locations throughout the southern U.S. It received a number of incentives from the state, county and city valued at $122 million.

American Car Care Centers:

Len Lewin, president and CEO of American Car Care Centers Inc., disclosed in early December that the dealer marketing group would dissolve as an organization by Jan. 31, 2014, after 24 years in business. Saying it wasn't an easy decision, Mr. Lewin acknowledged that "after evaluating every alternative, we collectively came to the conclusion it is the right, long-term decision for all involved." The group's member distributors had simply outgrown the structure of the organization, he added.

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