BUFFALO, N.Y. (Feb. 26, 2001)—When P. David Campbell decided to vacate his position as vice chairman and president of Goodyear Dunlop Tires North America Ltd. last year, it wasn´t because of dissatisfaction, boredom or age.
On the contrary, he still finds the job of running Dunlop´s North American operations challenging and exciting. And, at 55, he´s hardly ready to retire in the traditional sense.
But Mr. Campbell, who says he´s had a great career at Dunlop, has decided, "it´s time to give back rather than take."
The 32-year Dunlop veteran, who became a Christian in 1987 and says it changed his life, is leaving the firm March 31. His plans include taking on a consulting role to help not-for-profit ministerial organizations, especially with their marketing and financial endeavors.
"I´ve made a career out of solving problems," Mr. Campbell said.
"If organizations want to market their services, I can help. I can walk in and help them accomplish things," he said.
Mr. Campbell believes it´s a perfect opportunity to combine his beliefs with his experience—a record highlighted by the turnaround of a struggling tire manufacturer into a profitable company.
He started his well-rounded Dunlop Tire Corp. career in September 1969 at the firm´s Huntsville, Ala., plant, serving in production planning and industrial engineering. He also earned his first management position in Huntsville, becoming manager of industrial engineering.
Over the years, Mr. Campbell got a taste of the business in many areas—engineering, plant management, administration, corporate planning—before being named senior vice president of administration in 1992. In that position, he was responsible for human resources, information systems, general administration and corporate business planning.
Mr. Campbell was promoted to senior executive vice president and elected to Dunlop´s board of directors in early 1995, then became company president and CEO in August of that year.
At the time, Dunlop was a company in crisis, having suffered through years of financial losses, and the employees "had lost their way," said Tom Occhino, Dunlop manager of strategic planning and assistant to the president.
"Everyone had worked so hard, but with nothing to show for it. The organization was tired," said Mr. Occhino, who has worked with Mr. Campbell for 20 years. "(Mr. Campbell) had no doubt that the company could succeed. He instilled that belief throughout the organization."
"Relentless cost control" was a big part of Mr. Campbell´s blueprint, along with a market-driven strategy, rapid new product development and improved manufacturing efficiency. Dunlop ceased unwise spending, cutting costs 25 percent and doing away with 75 percent of reports, Mr. Campbell said.
In addition, the company improved its safety record 75 percent, increased its order-fill percentage to the mid-90s and reduced product component complexity by 30 percent.
"We put together a good management team here and implemented performance measures that matter," Mr. Campbell said. "We refocused on the customers getting what they want."
Mr. Campbell´s "team" concept wasn´t lost on Dunlop employees, from the hourly workers to managers like Mr. Occhino who worked closely with him every day.
"We had a very lean organization, but he created a management team and a relationship with all employees based on trust and integrity," Mr. Occhino said. "He created and nurtured an open and honest `whatever it takes´ culture which continues to keep our organization aligned, effective and healthy."
Another of Mr. Campbell´s close associates, Dunlop Chief Financial Officer James Galoppo, will be succeeding him when he leaves his post at the end of the first quarter. Mr. Galoppo said he can´t imagine anyone doing a better job of revitalizing Dunlop than Mr. Campbell.
"We were troubled, and David brought back focus, keying in on our business drivers," Mr. Galoppo said. "Politics weren´t allowed. Solving problems was everyone´s function.
"He was very motivational, and he earned people´s trust. He `walked the talk.´ ´´
Mr. Galoppo said the attitudes Mr. Campbell instilled at Dunlop will continue under his watch. "David set a standard for the whole company with his honesty and fairness," he said.
Mr. Campbell said he has many good memories at Dunlop, the best being asked to be CEO of a $400 million company.
"It makes you step back and wonder how you got there," he said. "You feel the weight of it all, then realize you have a big job to do. I´m proud of what we accomplished. We had sales of around $1 billion last year."
He knows he´s leaving Dunlop in good shape and in good hands. The merger into Goodyear—part of the Akron tire maker´s 1999 alliance with Sumitomo Rubber Industries Ltd.—``made sense globally and long term" for his company, Mr. Campbell said, and allowed Dunlop to grow in North A-merica and set records in sales.
However, the future remains unpredictable, with the issue of tire safety, the potential auto industry downturn and rising materials prices all playing potential havoc with the tire industry in 2001.
"There are some things you have to watch constantly," Mr. Campbell said. "Eventually it comes down to taking care of your costs."
Soon tire issues won´t be Mr. Campbell´s primary concern. He and his wife of 29 years, Donna, plan to stay in the Buffalo area and remain active in the community. He will be active in a theater district board, run a small-group ministry at his church and catch up on his reading and golf.
He and Donna also plan on doing a lot of traveling. They´ve started early in that regard, leaving on a vacation to Maui Feb. 12 for their first two-week trip together. And they´re waiting for their only daughter, Brandy, to give them their first grandchild.
"I´d like to have 40 percent of my time free," he said. "After 32 years of Dunlop, it´s time to do things a little differently."
Especially those ventures he´s being called to do.
"I´m blessed. I´m going to be able to serve God in a way that will change lives," Mr. Campbell said. "The fear I felt in possibly leaving is behind me. (Since)I made the decision, I´m more encouraged than ever."
Mr. Dawson writes for Rubber & Plastics News, a sister publication of Tire Business.