Tire Centers moving to S.C.
AKRON—Tire Centers L.L.C., which Michelin North America Inc. acquired last year, is moving its Akron-based headquarters to South Carolina to be closer to the tire maker.
The company, one of North America's largest commercial tire dealerships, is spending $6 million to build a 40,000-sq.-ft. headquarters building on 23 acres in Duncan, S.C., near the existing Michelin Retread Technology Inc. facility.
Construction of the new building should begin in the fourth quarter, Tire Centers said, and it is expected to be operational by next summer.
Michelin acquired Tire Centers last year, citing its strategic importance to the company's retreading efforts.
The move will impact 65 employees who work in the Akron headquarters. Tire Centers expects many of them to relocate to South Carolina. Some local hiring also is expected.
Tire Centers operates 170 retail and commercial tire outlets in the U.S. as well as 13 truck tire retread plants employing Michelin retread technology. It has more than 2,500 employees.
Currency, costs may affect Michelin
PARIS—Uncertain economic conditions prevailing in the second half of 2000 might mean a swing of $250 million or more in Group Michelin's operating earnings this year, the company said in a forecast report.
For the first half of 2000, Michelin saw operating earnings fall 9.4 percent, to $532 million, because of the combined effects of rising raw material prices, the impact of fluctuating currency values and inventory adjustments.
In particular, Michelin singled out the "lower level of profitability" in the U.S. and Japan and raw material price increases of nearly 15 percent as contributing factors in the decline.
Sales for the period rose 13.7 percent to $7.28 billion; net earnings fell even more steeply, 27.7 percent, to $231.2 million.
For the full year, Michelin said its operating margin likely would lie between 7.3 and 9 percent, depending on the strength of the global economy.
Senators laud Les Schwab
WASHINGTON—Sens. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., and Slade Gorton, R-Wash., praised Les Schwab Tire Centers Inc. for its actions during the recall of 6.5 million Firestone ATX, ATX II and Wilderness AT tires.
At a Senate Commerce Committee hearing, Mr. Wyden said Les Schwab had replaced 120,000 tires—or about 6 percent of the 2 million tires replaced so far—since the recall began Aug. 9.
Sen. Gorton said that in replacing the recalled tires with non-Firestone tires, Les Schwab was billing Bridgestone/Firestone Inc. directly rather than charging consumers.
Dick Borgman, executive vice president of Les Schwab, said the dealership had made special billing arrangements with BFS prior to the tire maker's recall announcement, but he couldn't recall what specific customer information Les Schwab has submitted to BFS.
The company has replaced the recalled P235/75R15s with its own labels—Wild Country and Wild Cat as well as with Toyo tires. Mr. Borgman noted that Les Schwab is almost out of the recalled size, but he believes the worst part of the recall is over.
BFS may drop Wilderness name
NASHVILLE, Tenn.—Bridgestone/Firestone Inc. is considering dropping the "Wilderness" name from its range of product names.
The Wilderness is one of two P-metric light truck tire lines currently being recalled and under investigation by federal authorities for their roles in hundreds of accidents.
Bridgestone/Firestone did not link its decision directly to the recall/investigation, but instead said it looks into changing or replacing tire line names after they have been in use for five or six years, according to Phil Pacsi, director of consumer tires brand marketing for Bridgestone/Firestone Tire Sales Co.
One of the replacement names being considered is "Terra Hawk."
Firestone still OE for 2001 Civic
DETROIT—American Honda Motor Co. has retained Bridgestone/Firestone Inc. as an original equipment supplier and already has equipped 2001 model Civics with Firestones.
BFS currently is the sole OE supplier for the Civic and will continue in that capacity, according to a Honda spokesman.
To date, Honda has received no complaints from customers about Firestone tires, the spokesman said.