AKRON-In many ways, Samir ``Sam'' Gibara has sculpted himself to be the logical candidate to direct Goodyear's worldwide expansion-a responsibility he will undertake Jan. 1, when he will take the reigns of the entire company as its new chief executive. Born in Egypt, Mr. Gibara was educated in Cairo and Cambridge, Mass., and became fluent in several languages.
He has served as adviser to the International Trade Center in Brussels, economic adviser to the Moroccan Government Delegation to the U.S. and vice president of the American Chamber of Commerce in France.
When Goodyear asked him to head divisions in Canada, Europe and the U.S., he excelled, and he was named corporate president and COO in April.
So it came as no real surprise when Goodyear's board of directors elected him to the additional post of CEO during its Dec. 5 meeting.
Since 1991, the job has been that of Chairman and CEO Stanley C. Gault, who will remain chairman and a ``full-time associate'' until June 30, when Mr. Gibara is expected to as-sume that position as well.
``I will assist the new CEO in any way that contributes to Goodyear's continued success,'' Mr. Gault said in a prepared statement announcing the appointment. ``The company has important external activities, which I will assume, including government and industry relationships.''
Among Mr. Gibara's chief supporters was Mr. Gault-the man often credited with returning Goodyear to financial stability following the failed takeover bid by Sir James Goldsmith in 1986.
One of Mr. Gault's first tasks at Goodyear, he said, was to identify the highest potential performers within the company.
``Obviously, Sam was one of those. He's intelligent, organized, a good administrator and tough but fair,'' Mr. Gault acknowledged during an interview following the announcement. ``He's well-groomed and well qualified-characteristics I observed in short order.''
The admiration is mutual.
When asked how difficult he believes his transition to CEO will be, Mr. Gibara answered: ``Not difficult at all. I have worked closely with Mr. Gault for a number of years now and I expect that the continuation of our plan for success will move along smoothly.''
Joshua Harari, an analyst with Standard*&*Poors, agreed. ``I think they enjoy working together. I think they're a good team,'' he said.
That two-man team helped turn Goodyear into a financially strong, market-driven company that has the ``momentum to expand and grow in emerging economies of the world,'' Mr. Gibara said.
But the 56-year-old Mr. Gibara, who said his goal is to turn Goodyear into a company ``universally recognized as the best,'' said he does not intend to turn his back on the mature North American tire market.
``Our dealer network will continue to be the source of our distribution strength, and we will do everything in our power to see that they are successful and a significant factor in our growth plans,'' he said, but added that the company will continue to base its distribution methods on where consumers decide to buy tires.
``I will welcome listening to dealer priorities and concerns, and I will encourage and support any and all efforts that lead to improved dealer competitiveness, profitability and growth,'' he added.