AKRON-Efforts to remain financially strong while better serving their customers have led Goodyear and Bridgestone/Firestone to restructure their respective operations.
In Akron-based Goodyear's case, the company realigned its North America Tire unit and announced several key executive appointments within its new consumer tire replacement sales organization. Meanwhile, Nashville, Tenn.-based BFS reassigned several executives and created four ``new'' companies.
The massive reorganization of Bridgestone/Firestone's operations was launched to keep the company ``financially strong and viable for the long term,'' in the words of Chairman, President and CEO John T. Lampe.
The BFS reorganization-unveiled Dec. 3 with a retroactive date of Dec. 1-creates a new holding company, Bridgestone/Firestone Americas Holding Inc., which serves as parent to four new companies under the Bridgestone/Firestone umbrella.
Mr. Lampe is chairman, president and CEO of the holding company, as well as CEO and chairman of Bridgestone/Firestone North American Tire LLC. This company, described in a press release as ``the successor to BFS,'' is in charge of North American tire manufacturing, all wholesale and original-equipment sales operations and product development and research.
Consumer, commercial truck and bus, agricultural and off-road OE and wholesale operations will fall under BFNT's authority. Isao Noguchi is vice chairman and president of the operation, which like the holding company will continue to be based in Nashville.
The other new Bridgestone/Firestone companies include:
* BFS Retail & Commercial (BFRC) Operations LLC, based in Bloomingdale, Ill., will consist of Bridgestone/Firestone's company-owned consumer and commercial tire store chains in the U.S. and Canada-including Firestone Tire & Service Centers, Tires Plus and GCR-as well as the firm's credit card operations. Larry Magee is its CEO, chairman and president.
* BFS Diversified Products (BFDP) LLC, headquartered in Carmel, Ind., includes all North American non-tire operations, including building products, industrial products, synthetic and natural rubber and textiles. Robert McNally is its CEO, chairman and president.
* Bridgestone Metalpha USA Inc., a steel cord manufacturer based in Clarksville, Tenn., with Tora Toraiwa as its president.
Bridgestone/Firestone's Latin American operations will be under the direct ownership of BFAH, the holding company, through a division called Bridgestone/Firestone Latin America. BFAH Executive Vice President Mark Emkes heads that division.
In its press release, BFS said the reorganization is the result of months of work with company employees, tax and accounting professionals and financial institutions. The twin goals of their efforts, the company said, were to secure better long-term financing rates and design a corporate structure that allows management to focus on core business operations.
``Our `Making it Right' commitment requires that we look at every aspect of our business to find effective ways of rebuilding our company,'' Mr. Lampe said in the release. ``The reorganization of BFS is an important step in that rebuilding process.''
The reorganization will not affect employment or facilities at BFS, a company spokeswoman said. As for tire production and distributions, ``we feel it will have what can only be a positive effect,'' she said. ``We now have a situation where we're focusing on our North American tire business, which will give us an opportunity to concentrate on what that requires of us.''
The U.S. company still faces a class-action lawsuit certified last month in Indianapolis federal district court-which it plans to appeal-and also possible payments to Ford Motor Co. to defray the costs of Ford's recall last May of 13 million Firestone Wilderness AT tires.
In the restructuring of Goodyear's North American tire operations, the firm created four business segments focused on consumer replacement, consumer original equipment, commercial, farm and retail and promising improved customer service and responsiveness.
``These organizational changes will allow us to better focus on our key businesses to achieve improved results, both financially and operationally,'' said John C. Polhemus, president of North American Tire, in a prepared statement. ``The objectives were to reduce complexity and streamline decision making.''
For customers, the moves should create more time for face-to-face meetings with Goodyear representatives, since much of the administrative work now handled by field personnel will be taken over by support staff in Akron, a spokesman said.
To facilitate the restructuring, Goodyear will close eight regional sales offices in the U.S.-in Atlanta, Chicago, Cleveland, Dallas, Jacksonville, Fla., Los Angeles, Philadelphia and San Francisco-in the next six months and will centralize functional support operations in Akron. The closings will eliminate 45 jobs, although some new jobs will be created in the new organization, the spokesman said.
The restructuring also creates several new executive positions. Goodyear hired Ted Fick, 42, previously executive vice president of Hino Diesel Truck Inc., as vice president, commercial systems, and named John Loulan, previously vice president of manufacturing for North America, as vice president operations, manufacturing and supply chain..
Within its new consumer tire replacement sales organization, the firm named Jim Vogel vice president of its Consumer Tires unit.
Other key Goodyear executives are: Bryan Kinnamon, 55, vice president OE, who continues to oversee the consumer original equipment business; Mark Pillow, 37, previously marketing director of farm tires, has been named director of farm tires; and John Peer, 52, will continue as director of retail operations.
Mr. Polhemus said Goodyear will dedicate specialized resources in the field to service the segments. ``Our businesses and functional support groups will be better organized and equipped to take advantage quickly of business opportunities,'' he said, without citing specifics. The streamlined structure is based in part on lessons learned from a revamp of retail store activities earlier this year.
The reorganization also includes creation of a new Field Sales Division, responsible for business with independent dealers and G3 Xpress distributors, plus a Corporate Accounts Division to serve the mass retailer, custom brand distribution, consumer national accounts, export sales and government sales channels of distribution.
The Field Sales Division will be under the direction of Mike Abney, director of field sales, consumer tires, assisted by general business managers Charlie Gallagher (East) and Enoch Turner (West).
Other related appointments include: Eric Brown, formerly general manager of emerging channels, to general manager of wholesale distribution (G3X) channel;
Nelson Waynesboro, formerly general business manager, to general manager, consumer market development;
Rich Slutter, formerly director of sales administration for Goodyear Dunlop Tire North America, to manager, sales and operations, field sales;
Tom Gravalos, formerly general manager, mass retailer channel, to director, corporate accounts;
Rich Gibbons, formerly general manager, channel marketing, to general manager, wholesale distribution (custom brands);
Steve True, formerly general manager, affiliated dealer channel, to general manager, consumer national accounts and export sales;
Barry Petrea, to continue as general manager for the government sales channel;
Derek Jenner, formerly director, channel management, to director of Dunlop brand sales; and,
Brandon Stotsenburg, formerly general business manager, to general marketing manager, niche marketing.
Tire Business Washington reporter Miles Moore contributed information on Bridgestone/Firestone's reorganization to this story.