FINDLAY, Ohio—For a company that usually hires management from within its own ranks, Cooper Tire & Rubber Co. broke custom to add Thomas A. Dattilo as vice president and chief operating officer. The former head of Dana Corp.'s sealing products operations in Toledo, Ohio, started with Cooper Jan. 4 and reports directly to Patrick W. Rooney, Cooper's chairman and CEO. In turn, Cooper's tire and engineered products divisions, information systems and strategic planning group report directly to Mr. Dattilo.
The new Cooper COO hasn't announced his goals for the company yet, but don't count out his potential impact on future acquisitions, a company spokeswoman said.
``Obviously, we have a long-term strategic plan to grow,'' the spokeswoman said. ``If you look at the North American market, it's not growing that rapidly, so if we want to continue to grow at an acceptable pace, we're going to have to look at mergers and acquisitions. I wouldn't discount it.''
Mr. Dattilo, she said, is a seasoned veteran of directing mergers and acquisitions. He also brings experience in plant management, engineering, finance, human resources, quality and international business.
At age 47, Mr. Dattilo appears to be a prime candidate to replace Mr. Rooney, who plans to retire in the next two years. However, the spokeswoman cautioned that it is premature to speculate on Mr. Rooney's successor.
``I don't think Pat (Rooney) wants everyone to leap to that conclusion,'' she said. ``He's (Mr. Dattilo) a very competent individual. But two years is also a long time, and we have a very talented management team. I think it's going to get competitive as time goes on.''
Mr. Dattilo joined Dana in 1977 as a member of the corporate legal staff, with a focus on acquisitions. From 1985-1997 he served in various positions, including vice president and general manager of Dana's Precision Controls Division; president and CEO of Hayes-Dana Inc.; and president of Victor Reinz Products.
A native of Akron, he earned a B.A. from the Ohio State University and a J.D. from the University of Toledo. He also completed the Harvard Business School Advanced Management Program, is a member of the Young President's Organization and a past chairman of the Automotive Parts Manufacturers Association.