AKRON-1995 is indeed a new year for the former General Tire Inc., which has started the year with a new leader and a new name, and will end it with a new base of operations. On Jan. 1 Bernd Frangenberg, head of General's passenger/light truck division, became company president, replacing Alan L. Ockene, who retired as president and CEO at the end of last year.
At the same time, General, a subsidiary of Continental A.G. of Hanover, Germany, changed its corporate name to Continental General Tire Inc. (CGT).
The tire maker will operate without a CEO. ``The structure of General Tire has changed, whereby the two main divisions (passenger/light truck and commercial) are virtually independent and coordinate with their counterparts (at Continental), so that the role of the CEO has changed,'' Mr. Ockene said.
His successor, Mr. Frangenberg, transferred to CGT from Conti last January, becoming executive vice president of the U.S. firm's passenger/light truck division.
He will retain responsibility for CGT's passenger/light truck division while Thomas J. Reese will remain executive vice president of the commercial tire division.
As president, Mr. Frangenberg also will oversee the relocation of CGT's headquarters from Akron to Charlotte, N.C., where the firm plans to construct a four-story, $12 million office building near its passenger tire plant. About 300 employees are expected to move from Akron to Charlotte by the end of 1995.
CGT is hoping the relocation will help the troubled company weed out some positions through attrition, cut costs and provide an overall ``fresh start'' and new corporate culture, Mr. Frangenberg said.
Analyst Harry Millis of Cleveland-based Fundamental Research Inc. compared the recent changes at CGT with Bridgestone/Firestone Inc.'s transition to Nashville, Tenn., from Akron. Both companies are pruning out the old guard in an effort to assimilate the U.S. subsidiary into Conti's culture, he said.
``It certainly clears up any question where the control is. You're working for Continental; you're not working for General Tire,'' the analyst said of the U.S. firm's employees. ``That's life. The owner deserves to call the shots.''
Mr. Frangenberg said he expects about 70 percent of employees in the company's Akron headquarters to move to Charlotte when the 120,000-sq.-ft. headquarters facility is finished, sometime near the end of 1995.
CGT currently employs about 600 people in the Akron area.
Included in the relocation are the firm's corporate staff, the passenger/light truck division and the finance, legal and human resources departments.
The commercial tire division is expected to relocate at a later date, while the tire test center will remain in Akron because it is too expensive to move, according to Mr. Ockene.
Some other functions, such as billings and accounts payable and receivable, may be relocated elsewhere or outsourced, company officials said.
Company executives chose Charlotte so as to be closer to the company's 33-acre manufacturing plant. Other sites considered by the company included York County, S.C., and sites in Kentucky and Illinois, where CGT also has manufacturing operations.