AKRON-The stage clearly was set at Goodyear's annual shareholders meeting April 15 to focus on the company's role as a global manufacturer. Flags of the 25 nations in which Goodyear has operations were arrayed on the stage, which had as a backdrop a map of the globe with a sign proclaiming: ``Setting the pace in a changing world.''
In his remarks, Chairman Stanley C. Gault said Goodyear has pursued ``a strategic plan to deliver sustained sales and earnings improvement through greater geographical diversity and global expansion.''
The strategy proved its value in 1995, Mr. Gault said, as Goodyear's operations outside the U.S. accounted for 45 percent of its revenues and 56 percent of its operating income, up from 42 and 50 percent, respectively, in 1994.
``The tire companies that are best positioned to grow in the months and years to come are those with a global outlook and a global capacity,'' he said.
With its recent acquisition of a majority interest in Poland's T.C. Debica, Goodyear became the only major tire maker with production capacity in each of the world's major growth markets, which include China, India and Brazil, as well as eastern Europe, Mr. Gault said.
``With Goodyear manufacturing located in or near major growth markets in every region of the world, we now can balance production throughout the world and utilize open capacity in one geographic region to meet the needs of another,'' he said.
According to President and CEO Samir F. Gibara, Goodyear has earmarked $675 million this year for capital expenditures, about two-thirds of which will be used for growth and expansion projects in North America and overseas, with the possibility of more acquisitions in the future.
``Our vision for the year 2000 has Goodyear ranked by all measures as the best tire and rubber company in the world,'' he said.
To achieve that status, the company has set two major goals: fast and profitable growth in all of its core businesses, becoming No. 1 or No. 2 ``in all of the industries and each of the markets in which we participate''; and operating as the lowest-cost producer of the major tire makers.
As part of the cost-reduction effort, Mr. Gibara said the company will focus ``serious attention'' on the consolidation of its North American operations, including Goodyear, Kelly-Springfield Tire Co. and Goodyear Canada Inc.-especially in the areas of manufacturing and physical distribution.
The April 15 gathering marked the last Goodyear annual meeting at which Mr. Gault will preside. He passed the reins of CEO to Mr. Gibara Jan. 1 and will retire as chairman June 30.
As a tribute to Mr. Gault, Goodyear has named the headquarters' customer conference and product display center ``The Stanley C. Gault Product Leadership Center.''