OTHER VOICES: How not to close a tire plant

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Crain News Service report

ERDINGTON, England (June 30, 2014) — Goodyear Dunlop has taken heavy flack for its decision to close the Dunlop Motorsport tire plant in Erdington, with the closure on May 31 being described by a local politician as a “day of shame” for the city — and, by inference, the company.

The emotive charge is, basically, that Goodyear Dunlop had decided to pull the plug on the facility after the lease on the 99-year-old property ran out, and that its efforts to keep the plant going were, at best, half-hearted.

The tire maker, however, insists that it had wanted to maintain production there, and made a 10-year offer to stay on the site. Unfortunately, it said, the landlord chose to sell it to a property development company.

Whichever view you take, Goodyear Dunlop’s decision to move production to France and Germany is clearly rooted in the harsh competitive realities of the global tire manufacturing industry.

However, the company did have years to explore all the options for keeping production in Erdington, near Birmingham, so that its final decision on the racing tire operation should have been a clear-cut one.

On that basis, the senior management team’s handling of the 125-year-old Dunlop plant seems more like an object lesson in how not to close a tire plant—and also, perhaps, in how not to rescue one.

This editorial appeared on the website of European Rubber Journal, a United Kingdom-based sister publication of Tire Business.

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