It was probably inevitable, once Goodyear decided to close its Kelly-Springfield Tire Co. division, that Lee Fiedler, Kelly's affable president, would retire. Goodyear announced in October it was shutting Kelly's Cumberland, Md., headquarters and moving operations to Akron as part of an ongoing company-wide plan to streamline and cut costs.
In the process, Mr. Fiedler's job will be eliminated along with those of three other Goodyear vice presidents, effective Jan. 1, 1999.
While Goodyear's decision to cut costs is understandable, it's a shame to see a good person such as Mr. Fiedler, 57, leaving the industry while still in his prime.
To those of us in the trade press, Mr. Fiedler has been a valued news source.
Ever since he became president of Kelly in 1991, he has made it a practice to be readily available to answer questions about his company and about the industry in general.
During this period, Mr. Fiedler never ducked an issue and his comments always have been candid and insightful. His down-to-earth explanations helped make sense of the many changes taking place among tire manufacturers, distributors and dealers.
If he couldn't answer a question, he would say so.
We suspect his dealings with customers have been the same.
In the seven years he has served as Kelly's president, we've heard only positive comments about Mr. Fiedler.
Under his leadership, Kelly has continued to enjoy a reputation as a customer-oriented, well-run tire manufacturing company.
It's a rare executive who's willing to be so open and available to the press. But Lee Fiedler has understood that frank communication, whether with employees, tire dealers or the press, is the foundation of a healthy relationship.
We wish him well.