How much research and development actually originates from Kelly-Springfield's 35,000-sq.-ft. Cumberland facility? A common perception among most industry analysts is that Kelly's R&D center simply takes most of its R&D from its parent, reapplying it to fit the needs of its private brand customers.
``Internally, a lot of Goodyear's technology flows to Kelly,'' said Joshua Harari, an analyst with Standard & Poor's Corp. ``Kelly cannot research and develop tires from scratch and develop marketing and manufacturing strategy and still have a low-priced tire.''
Industry observer Harry Millis said 80 to 90 percent of Kelly's R&D comes from Goodyear.
``Kelly-Springfield must make some specific changes for particular private label customers, but the bulk of the R&D is handed down from Goodyear,'' said the Fundamental Research Inc. analyst. Goodyear's total R&D budget in 1993 was about $320 million-some $25 million of which is probably designated for Kelly, he said.
Officials at Kelly, however, said the technology transfer flows both ways. ``We share things with Goodyear and they share things with us, but we don't share a lot,'' President Lee N. Fiedler said. ``We're on opposite courts.''
In fact, he pointed out that Goodyear asked Kelly-Springfield to hold up on the release of its dual-channel aqua tire until its parent company had caught up.
``Ours was totally developed here,'' Mr. Fiedler said. ``They saw ours at a quarterly meeting with (Goodyear Chairman) Stanley Gault, where we present what we have going on down the road.''
Goodyear just happened to be developing a two-channel tire, too. The Goodyear tire was directional, three pounds heavier and used a different tread compound.
Kelly agreed to let Goodyear take the public plunge first to test market acceptance of the tire.
Joe Musteric, Kelly's vice president of tire technology, was taken aback by the analysts' views.
``This greater share of the aftermarket didn't come by accident or from Goodyear giving us our technology,'' he said. ``We're totally self-contained to implement a project from beginning to end.''
Saul Ludwig, an analyst with Roulston & Co., said the truth lies somewhere in between. The basic chemical research emanates from Goodyear, yet product development is the responsibility of the Kelly-Springfield R&D facility.