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TB Newsmakers blaze a trail

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AKRON—Intense investment, a massive recall, several acquisitions, a potential new tire plant and newfound profits all helped make these individuals 2007's Tire Business Newsmakers.


This year's headline grabbers include:


  • Jim Micali, chairman and president of Michelin North America Inc., is overseeing $1.2 billion in investments in Michelin facilities in the U.S., Canada and Mexico through 2014.


  • Roy Armes, Cooper Tire & Rubber Co. president/CEO, and Byron Pond, board member and ex-interim CEO, have steered Cooper back into the black after eight straight quarters of losses.


  • Sae Chul Oh, CEO of Kumho Tire Co. Inc., and B.K. Kim, CEO of Kumho Tire North America, are spearheading Kumho's search for a site for the firm's first tire plant in the U.S.


  • Richard Kuskin, president of Foreign Tire Sales Inc., has endured a year of public and government scrutiny—and faced the specter of bankruptcy—in the wake of the recall of several hundred thousand Chinese-sourced light truck tires his New Jersey-based company imported.


  • Dick Johnson, chairman and CEO of American Tire Distributors Holdings Inc., is busy integrating ATD's latest wholesaler acquisitions as the company approaches $2 billion in sales.


    Also, take a step back in time with this list of the past five years of newsmakers and their accomplishments at the time. While a number of them maintained their newsmaker status over several years, some are no longer with their respective companies and, in some cases, the companies either no longer exist or subsequently have been acquired by other firms:


2006


  • Ron Hoover, United Steelworkers (USW) executive vice president and chief of its Rubber/Plastics Industry Conference, who declared job security the focus of 2006 contract talks with the major tire makers. He and the union faced battles over production cuts, plant closures and benefit drawbacks—and the 86-day Goodyear strike.

  • Jon Rich, Goodyear's North American Tire unit president, tried to assure USW strikers, non-union employees, consumers and dealers during its two-month strike that the firm could handle the strains of the strike as it held out for a competitive pact.

  • Maurice “Morry” Taylor Jr., Titan International Inc. CEO, who was fresh off his 2005 purchase of Goodyear's North American farm tire business, continued expansion by acquiring Continental Tire North America Inc.'s off-the-road tire plant in Bryan, Ohio.

  • Andreas Gerstenberger, executive vice president of sales and marketing for Continental Tire North America Inc., took many steps to get the struggling North American division on its feet. He pledged reforms to dealers and also was involved in closing Conti´s Charlotte, N.C., plant to trim costs.

  • Mark Emkes, chairman/CEO of Bridgestone Americas Holding Inc., and Martin Carver, chairman/CEO of Bandag Inc., forged a $1.05 billion buyout of the retread franchisor and materials supplier by the tire maker.

  • Canadian Paul Hyatt became the first international president of the Tire Industry Association (TIA) in 2006, pledging to push for passage of “Right to Repair” legislation as well as more global membership.

  • Joseph Tomarchio Jr., executive vice president of store operations, and Robert Gross, CEO of Monro Muffler Brake Inc., ratcheted up the firm's acquisition agenda, declaring a long-term goal of 1,000 stores and “to be the most profitable publicly traded (automotive) service business out there.”

  • 2005


  • Maurice Taylor Jr. had hinted that Titan International Inc. was doing so well someone might want to buy it. The company was in talks to be acquired by private equity firm One Equity Partners L.L.C. Meanwhile, under Mr. Taylor´s direction, Titan set out to buy Goodyear's North American farm tire business and joined talks to buy Continental Tire North America Inc.'s Bryan, Ohio, OTR tire plant.

  • Under President Larry Day´s direction, TBC Corp. has grown substantially in recent years, culminating in the $1.1 billion deal this year for Sumitomo Corp. of America to buy the wholesaler, retailer and private brand tire marketer.

  • Newly retired Hercules Tire & Rubber Co. President Craig Anderson capped off his 30-year career with the firm by helping guide its sale to private equity firm FdG Associates L.L.C., thereby bulking up the company´s financial footing and boosting capital to fuel expansion.

  • Director general of President Tire Canada since 1997, Denis Monette became its president/CEO and main shareholder, leading a group of managers to buy the Laval, Quebec-based dealership from parent A. Picard & Sons Inc., while continuing its aggressive expansion plans.

  • A new tire plant in White, Ga., is one accomplishment of Shozo (Carlos) Kibata's tenure as president of Toyo Tire (U.S.A.) Corp. Mr. Kibata, also president of Toyo Tire North America Inc. (the manufacturing unit), has helped parent firm Toyo Tire & Rubber Co. Ltd. launch aggressive plans to expand annual tire capacity nearly 18 percent to 30 million units worldwide by 2008 and boost annual tire sales and operating income.

  • 2004


  • Don Shea, Rubber Manufacturers Association president/CEO, and Roy Littlefield, Tire Industry Association executive vice president, pledged a “renewed commitment to dialogue” between the two associations for the industry´s betterment.

  • Tom Dattilo, Cooper Tire & Rubber Co. chairman, guided the tire maker's sale of its Cooper-Standard Automotive business, signed a distribution deal with online/mail order marketer Tire Rack and pushed the company to become a big player in China.

  • Jimmy Yang, American Kenda Rubber Ind. Co. Ltd. president, continued to push the firm beyond its specialty tire roots into passenger and light truck tires and was instrumental in a planned joint venture between Kenda Rubber Ind. Co. Ltd. and Cooper Tire to build a tire plant in China.

  • Robert Gross, Monro Muffler Brake Inc. president/CEO, enhanced the auto repair chain's expansion into tire sales via acquisitions of the Mr. Tire dealership and Donald B. Rice Tire Co. retail outlets.

  • Robert Keegan, Goodyear chairman/CEO, led the tire maker's continuing return to profitability, launch of the Assurance tire line and boosting of its sagging Dunlop brand with three new tires.

  • Dick Johnson, American Tire Distributors Inc. chairman/CEO, headed the firm's continued expansion with buyouts of Target Tire and Big State Tire and becoming an American Car Care Centers Inc. member distributor.

  • 2003


  • Cooper Tire & Rubber Co.´s chairman/CEO Tom Dattilo presided over the firm's move into motorsports, its acquisition of Max-Trac Tire Co./Mickey Thompson and launch of Cooper's Zeon high-performance tire lines.

  • Goodyear´s chairman and CEO Robert Keegan and Jon Rich, president of its North American Tire unit, reached out to dealers, negotiated a new three-year contract with the United Steelworkers of America and instituted a turnaround plan for the financially troubled company´s North American Tire operations.

  • Tom Raben, past president of the Tire Industry Association and Roy Littlefield, executive vice president, managed the rollout of the association´s Basic Automotive Tire Service training program for technicians and began TIA´s efforts for an industry checkoff program.

  • Paul Zurcher, head of the Zurcher Group, expanded the “Best One” tire dealer marketing program into New England and New York and purchased some of Bandag Inc.´s Tire Distribution Systems outlets in Tennessee, further solidifying Best One´s program in that state.

  • John Lampe, Bridgestone/Firestone's chairman guided the tire maker back to profitability and added Midas Inc. retail stores as another distribution channel, yet still maintained and protected the integrity of BFS´s independent dealer network.

  • TBC Corp. CEO Larry Day expanded the distributor's retail reach by acquiring the Merchant's Tire & Auto and National Tire & Battery (NTB) retail chains, consolidating their 337 outlets into TBC's Tire Kingdom subsidiary.

  • 2002


  • Dick Johnson, American Tire Distributors president/CEO, guided the amalgamation of Heafner Tire Group´s subsidiaries into a refocused company under the newly named ATD.

  • John Gamauf, Bridgestone/Firestone vice president, consumer tire dealer sales, visited thousands of tire dealers-which helped boost sales as the tire maker emerged from the shadow of a massive tire recall.

  • Robert Keegan, named Goodyear's CEO effective January 2003, will begin the arduous process of turning around the firm´s North American Tire operation and returning the firm to solid profitability.

  • Gaetano “Guy” Mannino, president/CEO of Pirelli Tire North America Inc., presided over the company's move to Rome, Ga., the opening of its MIRS automated tire plant there and began work on doubling Pirelli-brand sales in the U.S. within three years.

  • Marvin Bozarth, respected and longtime executive director of the International Tire & Rubber Association, retired—as ITRA merged with the Tire Association of North America—to become an industry consultant.

  • Roger Penske shuttered all 562 Penske Auto Centers—closing North America´s largest independent tire dealership—in the wake of Kmart Corp.'s filing for bankruptcy protection.

  • 2001


  • Sam Gibara, Goodyear chairman, Bridgestone Corp.'s Shigeo Watanabe and Group Michelin's Edouard Michelin led industry efforts to aid victims of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, with each company contributing $1 million to that cause.

  • Nick Hodel, Tire Association of North America president, and Tom Raben, International Tire & Rubber Association president, brought their two rival dealer groups together in a planned merger, slated to take place next July, provided members approve.

  • Larry Morgan sold to Bridgestone/Firestone a majority interest in his 558-store Morgan Tire & Auto Inc. chain, which does business as Tires Plus and other names.

  • John Lampe, Bridgestone/Firestone chairman, and Jacques Nasser, then-CEO of Ford Motor Co., testified before Congress, each blaming the other's company for rollover accidents involving Ford Explorers—which led to a massive Firestone tire recall.

  • Ray Bennett of DeKalb Tire Co. sued Michelin North America Inc. alleging price discrimination. The case was settled out of court after Michelin bought the Atlanta-based dealership.

  • Dick Johnson, CEO of Heafner Tire Group, led the Huntsville, N.C., company out of tire retailing, selling the 132-store Winston Tire chain and the retail stores of its former T.O. Haas Tire Co. division.
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