AKRON (March 29, 2002)-Give Robert Keegan credit. Goodyear's president and chief operating officer is doing the right thing in driving the tire maker to emulate some of the successful traits of its former Kelly-Springfield Tire Co. subsidiary, which was closed a few years ago.
Although he has no connection to Kelly-Springfield the company, which was merged into Goodyear prior to his arrival in October 2000, Mr. Keegan has an appreciation for how Kelly approached the business and went to market.
And significantly, the former Eastman Kodak Co. executive wants Goodyear to become more Kelly-like, a position many long-time Kelly dealers certainly will ap-plaud.
Mr. Keegan, in a recent interview with Tire Business, said he's pushing Goodyear to become market driven, meaning he wants the entire company focused on its customers and attuned to market needs rather than being driven by various internal functions such as manufacturing, technology, logistics, sales and marketing.
If Mr. Keegan can pull this off and get everyone in Goodyear thinking and acting this way, it will go a long way toward resolving many of the tire maker's problems.
As we editorialized in 1998, Kelly had many qualities worth retaining following Goodyear's decision to close the company's Cumberland, Md., headquarters and merge the operations into its own.
Kelly operated from a dealer-friendly perspective. The company's employees, from sales to technical, strove to develop close, responsive relationships with customers.
Dealers knew the company's telecommunications operators so well, in fact, that many sent flowers or candy to them on birthdays and anniversaries. And Kelly's president was open and available. Most importantly, the company made money.
Today, dealers tell us those attributes have been lost.
The market-driven approach employed by Kelly proved successful over the years. Mr. Keegan is right in pressing Goodyear to embrace it.