CHICAGO-The frenetic last days before Achievor Tire halted production in its Chicago plant were, if anything, laced with sorrow. ``It was very sad because everything happened so suddenly,'' said Karen L. Flynn, who was vice president of sales and operations at Achievor for the past year.
There were a lot of tears shed, she said, and not just from the 50 or so employees who lost their jobs when the company closed.
``Customers were all upset and in a panic,'' Ms. Flynn said from her parents' home in Cedar Lake, Ind. ``They loved the tires and wondered where they were going to get them now. They were very, very shocked at what happened.
``I had a great relationship with all my customers-more than just a business relationship. We'd become good friends.''
More than two weeks after the closing, Ms. Flynn, 34, said she was still receiving many calls daily from Achievor customers. ``A man in Florida wanted to know where he was going to get tires of such good quality at such a low cost.
``Customers were very happy with the product, the quality and especially the price.''
She has also talked regularly with many of the former Achievor employees. ``We were a very small office,'' she said. ``It's funny, but after what we've been through-it was a really rough month-we've become a lot closer.''
Ironically, it was a fluke that Ms. Flynn ended up with the tire company in the first place.
Eight years ago she was a legal secretary. An employment agency set up a job interview for her in a law office, but mistakenly sent her to Lakin General Corp., which was then producing the bead-to-bead remolded tires.
Moments after she began an ``interview'' with Dick Gust, then-head of Lakin's tire-making division, she realized he wasn't a lawyer, and she was in the wrong place. ``But we hit it off so well that he offered me a job as his secretary, and I took it,'' she recalled.
Now, she's hoping to continue in the industry, and has received a number of calls from prospective employers. ``I think once you're in the tire business,'' she said, ``you're in for life.''