And then there was one. Once known as the ``Tire Capital of the World,'' the city of Akron watched helplessly as two of its three remaining tire companies, Michelin Americas Small Tires and General Tire, announced they would relocate their headquarters by the end of 1995.
Only Goodyear remains in the city that had been, at one time, home to four major tire manufacturers.
The first news came June 17 when Michelin North America announced it would relocate its MAST business unit from Akron to Greenville, S.C., marking the end of the B.F. Goodrich tire era in the city.
B.F. Goodrich was the first firm to manufacture pneumatic tires in the U.S. when it set up tire production in 1895, 25 years after the company's founding in Akron as a rubber hose business by Dr. Benjamin Franklin Goodrich.
In 1986, B.F. Goodrich merged its tire operations with those of , creating Uniroyal Goodrich Tire Co. Two years later, BFG sold its 50-percent share in U.G. Tire to a New York investment firm.
Michelin bought Uniroyal Goodrich in 1990.
Consolidating its operations in Greenville would eliminate job redundancies, reduce travel, telephone, postage and facility operating costs and permit better response to customers, the company said.
A 45-person BFG-brand racing research and development facility located in the Akron suburb of Mogadore will remain at its current location.
Less than five months later, General announced it would relocate its headquarters from Akron to Charlotte, N.C., by the end of 1995.
The relocation, scheduled for late 1995, will involve General's Passenger/Light Truck Division and its corporate staff. Some administrative functions and part of the firm's research and development operations will remain in Akron, at least for now, according to the company.
The tire manufacturer's Commercial Division will head to Charlotte at a later date.
The move will bring the company closer to its Charlotte passenger tire plant, improve effectiveness, reduce long-term costs and generate ``a new corporate culture consistent with our size and strategy,'' said Alan L. Ockene, then General president and CEO. Mr. Ockene later announced he would retire from the company 15 months before his contract expired, in part, because he had no intention of moving from Akron.
The General move marked the final exodus from the ``Rubber City'' of a foreign-owned tire manufacturer. Bridgestone Corp. moved its Bridgestone/Firestone Inc. subsidiary to Nashville, Tenn., in 1992.