CHARLOTTE, N.C. (Feb. 25, 2003) —Ulrich Wellen, president for the past year of Continental Tire North America (CTNA) Inc., has left the company at his own request to pursue other professional activities, CTNA announced.
Effective immediately, Martien de Louw, 56, has become president and chief executive officer and head of the Charlotte-based tire maker's passenger/light truck replacement business unit. In addition, Mr. de Louw will continue to function as a board member of CTNA's German parent, Continental A.G., with responsibility for the passenger tire division worldwide.
A native of The Netherlands, Mr. de Louw joined CTNA from DAF Trucks, a subsidiary of the Paccar Group in Seattle, where he had been a board member in charge of DAF Truck development and held a seat on the board of management of the Paccar Group. He joined DAF in 1972 following stints at Group Michelin in Germany and France and at Philips Netherlands. Mr. de Louw has an academic background in machine engineering.
Last December, Mr. de Louw was appointed to Continental's executive board, effective Feb. 1, with responsibility for the passenger tire division, succeeding Conti Chairman Manfred Wennemer, who had overseen the division. However, Conti said Mr. de Louw would be based in Charlotte.
In January 2002, Continental revamped its tire division's corporate structure into two global reporting units — one for passenger/light truck and one for commercial tires. At that time Mr. Wellen, 43, a chemist by trade, replaced CTNA president and CEO Bernd Frangenberg, who retired last spring after holding that post for more than eight years. Mr. Wellen took over leadership of a company that had limped through 2001, finishing that year in the red.
During the company's 2002 dealer meeting, held in Hawaii, Mr. Wellen described CTNA as a “permanent loss maker for the past three years,” and stated: “This is not acceptable—a turnaround strategy is needed.” The company's vision, he said, is to be its dealers' “leading tire supplier.” By accomplishing that, Conti will in turn make its customers successful as well as create value for stakeholders “by capitalizing on our global tire technology leadership position.”
At the time, Mr. Wellen told Tire Business that although the task of turning around the company was indeed difficult, he believed he could accomplish that goal within two years, describing himself as a “fix-it guy.” The former vice president of Continental's worldwide original equipment car tire sales unit, he joined CTNA April 1, 2001, as its first-ever chief operating officer.
With annual sales of approximately $1.6 billion, CTNA has almost 9,000 employees, including about 2,000 in Charlotte. It operates plants in Bryan, Ohio; Charlotte; Mayfield, Ky.; Mt. Vernon, Il.; Barnesville, Ga. and San Luis Potosi, Mexico. A supplier to the original equipment and replacement tire markets, the company sells Continental, General, Euzkadi and a number of private brands.