AKRON—Goodyear united the sales and marketing areas of its North American tire operations in November, in a move to better manage the company's market process from product development through the actual sales effort. ``That was something we weren't able to do when (sales and marketing) were split in the past,'' said Marco Molinari, who was named the company's new vice president of sales and marketing for North American Tires on Nov. 1.
``It would always have to be a negotiation process. . .before we could get agreement. Now we can drive that together as a team,'' he added.
Although he has spent fewer than five months in the U.S., Mr. Molinari, 37, a native of Sweden, has been a key player in Goodyear's restructuring of its North American tire sales and marketing areas.
Arriving in Akron last August as director of marketing for North American Tires, Mr. Molinari spent his first six weeks learning how the company functioned and helping develop a plan to ``prepare ourselves so that we had a structure in place that can take us out four, five or six years.''
The result is that Goodyear's North American tire sales and marketing responsibilities are now grouped according to product type and customer channel, which Mr. Molinari believes will streamline decision making and improve customer service.
Mr. Molinari, who joined Goodyear in 1984, has held a variety of primarily marketing, sales and general management positions in Europe, rising to managing director for Great Britain, his most recent post before coming to the U.S.
His first job with the company was a two-year stint as a tire store manager in Germany. This opportunity gave him ``a good appreciation for what it is to run a small business and at the same time to deal with customers on a daily basis and to manage a small group of people who aren't always the easiest type of people to manage,'' Mr. Molinari said during a recent interview at the tire maker's Akron headquarters.
Among other positions, Mr. Molinari has been in charge of marketing and dealer development for Goodyear in Sweden, served as general manager for Goodyear in Switzerland and Austria, and was part of the team that did the due diligence for the company's acquisition of a controlling interest in Polish tire maker TC Debica earlier this year.
Although centered in Europe, Mr. Molinari believes his background has prepared him for the challenges of the North America tire market.
``Europe is a region, but it's made up of a lot of different countries,'' he said. ``All the different countries speak different languages, have different cultures, and we have different competitors in each market. . . .So going from one market to the other, I've certainly had the chance to experience change, deal with change and adapt to change.''
From a marketing standpoint, he views the U.S. in much the same way as Europe—regionally diverse. ``You have different climatic aspects, different cultural aspects and lingual issues to deal with as well,'' he said. ``So maybe I bring that sensitivity along.''
With the merging of the North American sales and marketing areas behind him, Mr. Molinari has begun spending more time talking with dealers. That, he said, has given him ``a chance to really hear and understand what are the conflicts they are faced with today as far as Goodyear is concerned, as far as other competitors are concerned and as far as other brands are concerned.''