FORT SMITH, Ark.-After nearly a year at the helm of Wingfoot Commercial Tire Systems L.L.C., John R. ``Bob'' Meyers has resigned as chairman and CEO, effective Sept. 30, to pursue other interests.
Steve McClellan, who became Wingfoot president and COO in August after replacing Michael Thomann, will assume the transitional leadership position within the joint-venture company formed by Goodyear and Treadco Inc. last November. Goodyear placed Mr. Thomann on special assignment.
After serving as Treadco president and CEO for six years, Mr. Meyers remained with the company after Goodyear purchased a 60-percent share from Treadco's parent, Arkansas Best Corp., to form Wingfoot. He since has presided over the blending of the three commercial tire entities-Treadco, Brad Ragan Inc. and Goodyear company-owned stores.
Saying that it's ``time to move on,'' Mr. Meyers told Tire Business he wants to take a ``few weeks off'' to re-evaluate his career plans. He called his departure from Wingfoot ``a very amicable parting'' but declined to say if he wanted to leave the tire industry.
In a prepared statement, John Polhemus, president of Goodyear's North American Tire operations, commended Mr. Meyers' leadership in creating the Wingfoot business and establishing a solid base for the future. He said a transitional team led by Chuck Mick, vice president of business development, will assist Mr. McClellan in his efforts.
``This is an extremely important business for Goodyear's commercial segment,'' Mr. Polhemus said. ``Their mission is to be the leader in servicing the trucking industry through the overall effectiveness of the Truckwise and Next-Tred marketing initiatives in the commercial and retreading businesses. We look forward to continuing to build, and improve upon, the business base that Bob helped establish.''
No decision has been made on a replacement for Mr. Meyers, a Goodyear spokesman said.
Regarding his work at Wingfoot, Mr. Meyers said he felt satisfied with the company's progress and his role in melding three corporate cultures together, which he described as ``marching in step now.''
``I'm very encouraged by the direction of Wingfoot,'' he said. ``It's been a massive undertaking. It's the largest combination ever in the commercial tire business, and I feel a lot of accomplishment, having been a part of it. I feel good about that part.''
Mr. Meyers declined to comment on whether or not Mr. Thomann's reassignment last month influenced his decision to resign.
Marvin Bozarth, executive director of the International Tire & Rubber Association, said he thinks the faltering economy has spurred the latest changes in tire company management, including Stephan Kessel, former chairman of Continental A.G., who recently resigned his post (see story on page 4). Mr. Bozarth noted that Treadco and Goodyear created Wingfoot at the beginning of an economic downturn and said he believes the joint-venture company is suffering losses as a result.
Mr. Meyers admitted that the economy has made for ``a challenging environment'' and that Wingfoot would have been an even better merger had the ``economic times been stronger.'' But he maintained that Wingfoot has enjoyed profitability even though it's ``skinnier than what we want.''
Wingfoot operates 172 outlets, including commercial service centers and retreading facilities, and has estimated sales of about $650 million.