Nasser under fire
While the recall of some 6.5 million Firestone tires has become a seemingly never-ending saga for Bridgestone/Firestone Inc. executives, the other guy in the hot seat has been Ford Motor Co. CEO Jacques Nasser.
But an ABC News Web site bio of the Lebanon-born exec, who grew up in Australia, noted how feisty he can be, and how he "never shies from the limelight." It said he's used to being in tough spots and recalled how, while assigned to Ford's Argentina operations in 1985, armed workers briefly took him hostage in a dispute between the company and militant unionists.
At the time, Mr. Nasser, who pronounces his first name "Jack," was a finance manager at the plant. He negotiated for Ford to retake control of the facility, but not before collapsing from exhaustion at one point, the bio said.
Could "Crocodile Dundee" have done any better?
Pass the gas masks, puleez
Some people apparently will go a long, long, smelly way to win one of the hot new Chrysler PT Cruisers.
A New Jersey radio station sponsoring a contest at Warnock Automotive Group's Chrysler-Plymouth dealership in East Hanover did a twist on the popular "Survivor" TV show: It enticed five strangers to spend five days—yep, without showers—sandwiched into a Cruiser.
Talk about cruel and unusual amusement, the quintet had to eat bean burritos while caged up in the car, with only a five-minute break every two hours. (Phew.|.|.|roll down that windah, Bubba.) Radio station listeners voted on which contestants should be removed.
The winner: 50-year-old bus driver Nancy McKittrick from Bradley Beach, N.J.—who probably already knew a thing or two about being cooped up in a hot, smelly vehicle with a bunch of strangers. Yes, she got the car keys, but will she ever be able to fully fumigate that Cruiser? Might as well cruise it through a car wash, windows down.
Quote du jour—Comedian Stephen Wright observed: "Right now I'm having amnesia and deja vu at the same time. I think I've forgotten this before."
A different culture—It may be a real slow news day in the States before something like this gets in print, but in Japan it's considered big news: When Nissan President Carlos Ghosn recently went on a two-week vacation, the Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun newspaper ran a story on it.
In Japan, where extremely long workdays and short vacations are the norm, Mr. Ghosn, a former Michelin North America Inc. exec, is known as a workhorse whose long hours have earned him the nickname "Mr. 7-11." (Not to be confused with the stores of the same name.)
Harvey steps up to the plate—Nothing gets Harvey Brodsky more in a dither than some uninformed person making a snide comment about retreads.
The Tire Retread Information Bureau (TRIB) managing director recently fired off a letter in response to a Los Angeles Times article (about Dodger pitcher Ismael Valdes) headlined, "Valdes digs deep hole for Dodgers." The writer had the unfortunate temerity to state: "Maybe the move will be no more effective than replacing a bald tire with a retread." Uh-oh.
Harvey's reply: "He should only hope it is, because then Valdes will no doubt throw a perfect no hitter the next time he pitches." (Way to go, slugger.)
Not a Ms.take—Didja hear the news that Gloria Steinem, at age 66, has finally tied the knot for the first time? On Sept. 3, she married South African-born entrepreneur David Bale, father of actor Christian Bale.
We couldn't help but chuckle when reading that avowed feminist Ms. Steinem, co-founder of Ms. magazine, got hitched in Oklahoma at the home of a friend who is the former chief of the Cherokee Nation, Wilma Mankiller.
Time to re-tire?—Speaking of odd names, in light of all the tire problems being bandied about in the news lately, we wondered about the efficacy of having a Remington private brand called "Rimfire." With the image that conjures, is that really a good name?
What're ya implying?—The return address on the envelope said it came from Dummies Press.
The enclosed press release, from IDG Books Worldwide Inc. in Foster City, Calif., told us how to order a new book called Car Buying Online for Dummies. Should we have been offended?
Coming soon to your house—A recent item in Tire Business noted that Goodyear has redesigned its Web site to provide consumers with more complete info on the tire maker's all-terrain vehicle tires.
It quoted Ed McMahon, identifying him as marketing manager for Goodyear ATV tires. What the story didn't say is whether the "Prize Patrol" van will be running on Goodyears. Guess we'll have to ask Dick Clark.
Tareting the market
Without becoming embroiled in any debates about gun control, we'll merely report on a "Second Amendment" sales promotion—conducted by a suburban Knoxville, Tenn., used-car dealer—that has gotten some play on national TV.
Lumpy Lambert (would you buy a used car from a guy named "Lumpy"?) is offering customers a voucher for a deer rifle with every auto sale, and a water pistol for every child. "This is a sportsman's paradise," he said of the promotion, slated for Aug. 26. "We thought just before fall, just before deer hunting season, that it might be nice to have a promotion like this."
His Advantage Auto Sales used-car dealership was to give vouchers for used Mauser 8 mm deer rifles valued at around $100 each.
"From a business standpoint, if I sell a couple of cars or if I just get people to come out and look at what I have, I will consider it a success," he said.
Yeah, but with the reputation some used-car dealers have, does Lumpy really want to be arming his customers?
The 'Amnesia Express'
Beautiful, mountain-ringed Banff, Alberta, is a big tourist town in the Canadian Rockies. It's even nicer if you know where you're going.
A hotel tour bus regularly making the rounds draws stares for the sign in its front window declaring: "We're Lost."
The bus driver claims that it's just a conversation piece. But after all, he is a guy—and we all know guys just don't ask for directions.
Beat this deal
Accompanying its new 2000 catalog, Dallas-based Wallace W. Wade Specialty Tires sent us a news release crowing that it had just been voted "the No. 1 specialty tire firm in the nation." But the ranking wasn't by J.D. Power & Associates, the tire marketer said, "because we could not handle their $75,000 survey fee."
So the company went to the next-best thing: "We picked a selected group of relatives and friends to handle the voting." (Nothing like unabashed objectivity.)
Always willing to have a little fun with its tire business, the company added: "As we did last year, we are enclosing a new set of tires for just reading this press release and our new catalog. As a matter of fact, as a result of this toy tire promotion, our sales in toy tires exceeded over 500,000 units in 1999.
"Too bad," the company lamented, "we couldn't sell that many regular tires."
Let's see.|.|.|how many sets of tires would the firm have to sell to each of that select group of relatives and friends to reach that unit level? We hear there's a big demand right now for a certain size of tire for certain sport-utility vehicles.