AKRON (Sept. 21, 2001)-—All across the tire industry, companies and people are rallying to support those impacted by the deadly terrorist attacks against the U.S. on Sept. 11.
In response to the tragedies in New York City, Washington, D.C. and southwest Pennsylvania, all of the major tire companies, along with several other industry organizations, have announced donations and programs to help in the relief and recovery efforts. Others are planning to establish such programs in the near future.
The industry's contributions and support span the gamut from major donations to relief agencies, to providing tires to keep emergency vehicles running, to dressing in red, white and blue to show support for the country.
“There's a bunch of people in need out there,” said Len Lewin, president and COO of American Car Care Centers Inc., summing up the sentiment of his organization's membership. “It's the right thing to do—to give back in this time of need.”
Following are what some in the industry are doing to support those affected by the terrorist events:
Group Michelin in France and its U.S. unit, Michelin North America Inc., both made contributions to the relief and recovery efforts.
The French tire maker has donated $1 million to the Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund and established the Michelin Relief Fund for its 128,000 employees worldwide who might wish to make donations.
In addition, Greenville, S.C.-based Michelin North America has donated around-the-clock, on-site tire service and up to $250,000 in tires to help keep emergency vehicles working at recovery efforts in lower Manhattan.
“It is impossible to find words to express the anguish we feel for the tragedy that has befallen the United States,” said Group Michelin CEO Edouard Michelin about his company's donation.
“It is simply the right thing to do,” added MNA Chairman Jim Micali.
Goodyear also has offered $1 million, a sum it expects will grow significantly through the personal donations of Goodyear's 100,000 employees worldwide.
The company is dividing its contributions between The New York Times 9/11 Neediest Fund to provide financial aid for rescue workers, civilians and their families, and the American Red Cross, which is providing aid in Washington, D.C., New York and Pennsylvania.
“Our deepest sympathy rests with those who lost loved ones in the devastating events of last week,” Chairman Sam Gibara said.
In addition to its monetary support, Goodyear has offered 20,000 run-flat tires to New York City's Office of Emergency Management to fit police cruisers and taxi-cabs, a company spokesman said.
Beyond these efforts, Goodyear has dedicated manufacturing, logistics and delivery personnel to assure continuous tire availability in both New York and Washington, the company said. It also has also dispatched tire engineers to consult with New York City's tire maintenance staff to assist in any tire needs to avoid equipment downtime.
Mr. Gibara said Goodyear's fleet of three U.S.-based airships will display aerial night signs to assist in relief and philanthropic efforts as long as required.
Bridgestone Corp. in Japan has donated $1 million to the American Red Cross to help fund medical treatment and provide other support for the victims.
“Personally, I feel a special affinity for the United States, where I lived for five years and where I have traveled extensively,” said Shigeo Watanabe, president/CEO. “This donation is an affirmation of the close ties between the Bridgestone Group and the men and women of the United States.”
Meanwhile, its Nashville, Tenn.-based subsidiary, Bridgestone/Firestone Inc., donated $100,000 (through the Bridgestone/Firestone Trust Fund) to the National Chapter of the American Red Cross. It also is collecting donations for the American Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund at its plants, office and store locations.
Company employees also dressed in red, white and blue on Sept. 14 and made contributions to the American Red Cross and United Way's “The September 11th Fund,” a company spokeswoman said.
In addition, BFS held a moment of silence at noon at the company's headquarters that same day and then played patriotic songs on its internal sound system.
As a show of patriotism and solidarity during this national tragedy, BFS also is mobilizing its company-owned stores, including the newly acquired Tires Plus locations, to hang American flags on their storefronts and is encouraging its independent dealers to do the same.
Cooper Tire & Rubber Co. has had an outpouring of desire from employees worldwide wanting to help and to do something, a company spokeswoman said.
At the request of some company employees, Cooper formed a corporate-wide donation effort to aid in the American Red Cross victim's relief efforts. Employees worldwide are donating to the fund, a percentage of which Cooper has agreed to match.
In addition, on Friday Sept. 14, the company held a red, white and blue jeans day at its Findlay, Ohio, headquarters and raised $5,000.
“This is not just the corporation writing a check but is part of every Cooper employee,” she explained.
Cooper also has agreed to let dealers use their co-op advertising dollars as matching funds for donations made to organizations aiding in the relief efforts.
Continental Tire North America Inc. looked to its employees for guidance about how to respond to the terrorist atrocities, said Michael Polovick, corporate director of human resources.
With input from an employee committee, the company established a supply campaign at its plants in North America to collect donated bottled water, Gatorade boxes, blankets and shirts for use by those in the recovery and clean up efforts. Employees are collecting the supplies and loading the trailers themselves, Mr. Polovick said. “They want to have some sweat equity in the process.” Once the trailers are full, Conti will truck the supplies to New York and Washington.
Along with these activities, Conti is collecting money at each location to purchase supplies for the victims and rescue workers and will conduct its first company-wide blood donation within the next few weeks. Conti also is promoting its employee assistance program where employees can get confidential counseling, if needed, he said.
American Car Care Centers
American Car Care Centers Inc. established the ACCC Relief Fund to raise money for the families of firefighters, policemen and the military who lost their lives in the terrorist attacks.
Distributor members of the Memphis, Tenn.-based dealer marketing group have been “extremely supportive,” Mr. Lewin said, adding he has heard from numerous ACCC dealers who wanted to do something but weren't sure what to do.
“There's been a ground swell that this is the right thing to do,” he said about establishing the fund.
ACCC and its distributors have prepared letters to be sent to dealers seeking their support, Mr. Lewin said. Checks will be gathered at the ACCC home office, which will redirect the funds to the three groups.
TBC has developed a campaign with the American Red Cross to solicit contributions for those in need of help.
The Memphis, Tenn.-based company will match any contributions it receives from its distributors up to a total of $50,000, a company spokesman said.
TBC's two dealership chains also are making contributions of their own. Big O Tires Inc. is setting aside a portion of the proceeds of each tire they sell to Big O franchisees, with the money going to the American Red Cross. Tire Kingdom planned to set aside $1 for every tire sold at its stores over the three day period of Sept. 21, 22 and 23 and donate the proceeds to the New York City Firemen's Relief Fund.
The Rubber Manufacturers Association has donated $25,000 to the American Red Cross to aid in relief efforts, noting that “while the terrorists launched evil upon our shores, the world will witness America's response—compassion and resolve.
In addition, the Tire Association of North America, International Tire & Rubber Association, Tire Retread Information Bureau and Tire Review magazine have established The One Fund to collect and distribute donations to support the families and children of New York City police, fire and emergency medical service personnel killed as a result of the terrorist attacks.