AKRON-Continental General Tire Inc.'s Ed Kalail is a survivor. In 32 years with the tire maker-the last 11 as public relations director-he has endured the corporate restructuring of 1984, an attempted takeover in early 1987 and the firm's eventual sale to Continental A.G. later that year.
But Mr. Kalail's reign as PR king ended June 30 when he retired, representing the first time since 1963 that he will not be a member of General Tire's PR staff.
``I don't know if (retirement) has sunk in yet,'' said Mr. Kalail, who started with the firm as editor of its employee newspaper, Generally Speaking. Before joining General Tire he had operated his own PR and advertising agency.
``You always have mixed emotions when something that has been a part of your life for 32 years ends,'' he said. ``It's something everyone regrets, leaving the people you worked with for 32 years. I'll miss that interaction.''
On the other hand, retirement will provide Mr. Kalail with the opportunity to pursue a variety of outside interests, including serving as a PR consultant to General until it leaves for Charlotte, N.C., and doing some volunteer work.
CGT is relocating its Akron headquarters to a new $12 million facility it is building in Charlotte.
Mr. Kalail, who recently wrote a history of the Sharon Golf Club in Medina, Ohio, said his future plans also will include a few more leisurely activities. He and his wife, Cathy, have four adult children and five grandchildren.
He has seen differences in the way CGT-and the entire industry-do business. ``I'd say the one word to characterize my time at General Tire is change-change at General and change within the industry. . . .''
One of the most obvious differences has been the conversion to radial tires, Mr. Kalail said.
``(The market) used to be dominated by the five major U.S. players: Goodyear, Firestone, Goodrich, Uniroyal and General,'' he said.
But Michelin forced those companies to change their technology and upgrade their equipment in the early 1970s, he said.
Other European and Pacific Rim firms followed Michelin, and the industry became a global one.
There's been another significant change in the industry, he said: ``Akron as the rubber capital. That has disappeared pretty much.''