AKRON-In an effort to increase efficiency and lower costs, Goodyear may merge some support functions with those of its Kelly-Springfield Tire Co. subsidiary. ``In a global economy, everyone's looking at ways to be more efficient and customer driven,'' a Goodyear spokesman said.
Goodyear is considering combining Goodyear and Kelly support activities that overlap. Areas that could be joined include human resources, product supply, global product distribution logistics, warehousing, customer information systems and accounting.
Sales and marketing would remain separate, he said, since the companies primarily serve different market segments.
Task forces from both firms are examining the functions of support operations, and a Kelly spokesman said both ``are looking for ways to lower costs to be more effective in the marketplace.''
The investigation has no timetable, and he declined to discuss which particular operations are being studied and where any combined departments would be housed.
``Obviously serving our customers better is our goal,'' he said. ``If you can be more efficient, you can better serve your customers.''
Goodyear employees learned of the study through internal communications at the company, the firm's spokesman said. No indications have been made about possible staff cutbacks.
The study fits into Goodyear's efforts to improve profits and lower costs without compromising customer service levels, said analyst David Garrity of Smith Barney Harris Upham & Co. Inc.
Goodyear has a series of projects aimed at product support with customers, he said. Its Project Genesis reviews distribution and customer support in the U.S.
Integrating support functions between Goodyear and Kelly is a logical extension of such projects, according to Mr. Garrity.
Cumberland, Md.-based Kelly sells to the replacement market and has annual sales of about $1.4 billion. It employs about 7,000, and operates plants in Fayetteville, N.C., Freeport, Ill., and Tyler, Texas.
Its house brands, which are sold to independent dealers, include Kelly, Star, Monarch, Republic, Lee and Hallmark.