BUFFALO, N.Y.—He wasn't dissatisfied with his job, nor was he bored.
When P. David Campbell decided to vacate his position as vice chairman and president of Goodyear Dunlop Tires North America Ltd. last year, he still found the job of running Dunlop's North American operations challenging and exciting. At 55, after what he calls a "great career," he's hardly ready to retire in the traditional sense.
But Mr. Campbell has decided it's "time to give back rather than take."
The 32-year Dunlop veteran—who became a Christian in 1987 and said 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 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.
Mr. Campbell started his well-rounded Dunlop Tire Corp. career in September 1969 at its Huntsville, Ala., plant, where he served in production planning and industrial engineering, eventually becoming manager of industrial engineering.
Upon being named senior vice president of administration in 1992, he was responsible for human resources, information systems, general administration and corporate business planning.
He was promoted to senior executive vice president and elected to Dunlop's board in 1995, then became company president/CEO in August of that year.
At the time, Dunlop was in crisis, having suffered through years of financial losses. 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. He said the company also ceased unwise spending, cut costs 25 percent and did away with 75 percent of reports.
The firm also improved its safety record by 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."
That "team" concept wasn't lost on Dunlop employees.
"We had a very lean organization," Mr. Occhino said, "but he created a management team and a relationship with all employees based on trust and integrity. He created and nurtured an open and honest `whatever it takes' culture which continues to keep our organization aligned, effective and healthy."
Mr. Campbell has many good memories at Dunlop, with the best being asked to be CEO of a $400 million firm that, he said, had sales of about $1 billion last year.
And he feels 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," he said, and allowed Dunlop to grow in North America and set records in sales.
Soon, tires won't be his primary concern. Mr. Campbell and his wife of 29 years, Donna, plan to stay in the Buffalo area and remain active in the community, where he'll be on a theater district board, run a small-group ministry at his church and catch up on his reading and golf.
The couple, who also plan to do a lot of traveling, left on a vacation to Maui Feb. 12 for their first two-week trip together.
As for his ministry work, Mr. Campbell said: "I'm blessed. I'm going to be able to serve God in a way that will change lives.
"The fear I felt in possibly leaving is behind me. (Since) I made the decision, I'm more encouraged than ever."