When Tire Business set out to mark its 30th anniversary of publishing, it seemed a fitting way to mark the occasion by perusing past print issues for some of the top headlines of three decades of news gathering.
Tough assignment. There's obviously been plenty of news happening year after year in the tire and automotive service industries.
Perhaps one of the interesting observations is that no matter how much things change, in some instances the critical issues facing tire dealers haven't changed all that much. And all the news that's fit to print? Well, it has a way of repeating itself. Like maybe tires from China? The following is a synopsis of big news events in the tire industry.
If you'd like to read the entire stories, visit www.tirebusiness.com. Now sit back and see how many of these you remember—or maybe participated in. — Sigmund J. Mikolajczyk
April 11, 1983: Chinese may export tires to U.S. by next year NEW YORK—The People's Repub-lic of China may be competing for the U.S. tire buyer's dollar by next year, if China United Trading Corp. Ltd. has its way. China United wrote National Highway Traffic Safety Administra-tor Raymond Peck in mid-January, requesting information on Depart-ment of Transportation procedures to certify both passenger and truck tires from China National Chemicals Import & Export Corp., Shanghai Branch, for export to and sale in the U.S.
Sept. 3, 1984: ITC nixes dumping probe of S. Korean auto radial imports WASHINGTON—After studying the volumes of exhibits and testimony in the South Korean radial passenger tire dumping case for two weeks, the U.S. International Trade Commission voted unanimously against pursuing a material injury case against South Korean tire makers.
May 27, 1985: BTR to sell Dunlop Tire operation to U.S. investors BUFFALO. N.Y.—BTR P.L.C., which finalized its $109 million acquisition of Dunlop Holdings P.L.C. March 27, will sell Dunlop Tire Corp. to U.S. investors—-including Dunlop U.S. manage-ment—for $118 million and the repayment of $60 million in loans. BTR accepted a package nearly identical to that offered by in-vestors to Dunlop Holdings previ-ous to the BTR buy-out.
Nov. 24, 1986: Goodyear pays raider's ransom AKRON—Goodyear manage-ment has ended Sir James Gold-smith's takeover bid by agreeing to buy out the Anglo-French fi-nancier's 11.5 percent stake in the firm. The total cost of the multi-faceted deal, announced Nov. 20, could run as high as $3 billion after all aspects of the buy-out and a company restructuring are com-pleted.
July 6, 1987: Continental to purchase General Tire AKRON—GenCorp Inc. has agreed to sell its General Tire sub-sidiary to West German tire maker Continental Gummi-Werke A.G. for $650 million in cash. The acquisition will make Con-tinental the world's fourth largest tire maker, based on sales, behind Goodyear, Michelin and Bridge-stone. In 1986, Continental's tire sales hit $1.62 billion (at the an-nual averaged exchange rate), while General Tire's sales totaled $1.12 billion—one-third of Gen-Corp's total sales. The companies expect to close the deal by Nov.1.
Aug. 15, 1988: Tire Business Commemorative Issue: "The Pneumatic Tire Industry Celebrating 100 Years" AKRON—Coming along as it did, just before the advent of the automotive age, the pneumatic tire joined forces with the automobile to change the very face of society in America and most of the world. Few inventions have more profoundly affected society than the pneumatic or air-inflated tire—which not only changed the way people traveled, but even today influences where and how we live.
July 31, 1989: Michelin No. 1 in tire sales (unseated Goodyear after 80 years on top) CLERMONT-FERRAND, France—Group Michelin can cele-brate its centennial this year knowing it has become the world's largest tire maker, as determined by sales. In its recently released annual report for 1988, the French tire maker recorded tire sales of at least $8.1 billion for the year—just surpassing the $7.93 billion reported earlier by Goodyear, which has held the No.1 spot for nearly 80 years.
March 26, 1990: Retreads flunk GSA road tests WASHINGTON—Only one of 10 retreaded tire samples so far has passed the test to qualify for fed-eral procurement, and the govern-ment official in charge of the re-tread procurement program is puzzled and worried as to why.
July 1, 1991: BFS moving headquarters to Tennessee AKRON—Bridgestone/Firestone Inc. veri-fied June 18 what had been whispered about in its corporate hallways for weeks: It will relocate its corporate headquarters staff from Akron to Nashville, Tenn.
March 9, 1992: Sears stores to carry 7 Goodyear lines CHICAGO—Goodyear, in a dra-matic move to regain lost market share and boost tire sales, will be-gin distributing several lines of Good-year-brand tires through Sears, Roebuck and Co. stores April l. The two American corporate giants announced the distribution plan March 3 at a joint press con-ference at Sears' headquarters in Chicago. Sears, which operates more than 850 tire and auto centers in all 50 states, will stock seven lines of Goodyear passenger and light truck tires, including a newly re-designed Arriva all-season radial that will be sold exclusively through the huge retailer. Sears also will market the Corsa GT, Eagle GT + 4, Eagle GA, Eagle VRlZR, Wrangler AT and Wran-gler HT lines.
Jan. 25, 1993: Return of the king—Curcio, investors buy back Tire Kingdom from Michelin WEST PALM BEACH, Fla.—The Tire King reigns again. After four years under the Michelin North America domain, Tire Kingdom, one of North America's largest dealerships, is once again owned by its founder, Chuck Curcio—a.k.a. "The Tire King" in the dealership's tele-vision commercials.
Sept. 5, 1994: Kmart faces class-action lawsuit—Charges of systematic auto repair fraud could cost retailer billions TULSA, Okla.—A lawsuit charging Kmart Corp. with deliberately defrauding automotive service customers across the country has been granted class action status by an Oklahoma judge. If successful, the suit could cost the nation's second-largest retailer billions of dollars in damages.
Nov. 27, 1995: Allergic to radials?—Preliminary studies link airborne tire particles to asthma DENVER—Tiny black flecks as minute as a grain of sand. They may hold a key to a medical mystery that has researchers and immunologists baffled—and frankly, worried. Miniscule airborne residue from rubber tires—specifically radials—may explain why, over the past two decades, the prevalence and severity of asthma has steadily increased worldwide, with children living in urban areas affected most.
May 27, 1996: Goodyear settles service fraud suit—Firm to offer $70 million in vouchers AKRON—Heading off what could have proven to be a lengthy and expensive court battle, Goodyear has agreed to settle a class-action lawsuit alleging the company engaged in widespread automotive service fraud.
Dec. 8, 1997: Manager was Bandag spy, Treadco charges—Former employee defected to TCI FORT SMITH, Ark.—The bad blood between Treadco Inc. and its former tread rubber supplier, Bandag Inc., continues to boil. In what could be called a case of corporate espionage, Treadco has charged that, over the course of more than a year, an employee purloined highly confidential information about pricing and business strategies and turned it over to Bandag before resigning from Treadco to work for a competitor.
July 6, 1998: All tire sizes to be metric WASHINGTON—All tires sold in the U.S. must be marked with metric as well as English measurements by May 27, 2003, according to a new final rule from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The NHTSA regulation, published in the May 27 Federal Register, implements the Omnibus Trade and Competitiveness Act, which requires the metric conversion of all U.S. industry.
July 5, 1999: Matching tires on 4WDs—Differences of 1/4 inch in diameter can damage powertrains on 4-, all-wheel drives PITTSBURGH—For Dean Albert, owner of Albert's Tire & Service in Pittsburgh, the episode began with a situation many independent tire dealers face almost daily. Last December, a customer brought in his 1989 Jeep Cherokee for its state safety inspection. Subsequent examination showed that besides brake work, the four-wheel-drive, sport-utility vehicle also needed at least two replacement tires.
Oct. 23, 2000: TREAD Act passes WASHINGTON—Major legislation stemming from Bridgestone/Firestone Inc.'s 6.5-million-tire recall has become reality. The Senate passed the Transportation Recall Enhancement, Accountability and Documentation (TREAD) Act the evening of Oct. 11, on a motion and without a recorded vote. This was one day after the House of Representatives approved the bill by voice vote.
April 9, 2001: Deadly combination?—Ford Explorer & Firestone Wilderness HILTON HEAD, S.C.—The combination of the Ford Explorer with 15-inch Firestone ATX and Wilderness AT tires created a ticking time bomb, according to speakers at the Clemson University Tire Industry Conference in Hilton Head.
April 15, 2002: Penske shuts down 562 auto centers TROY, Mich.—In one swift, decisive action, the nation's largest independent tire dealership, Penske Auto Centers Inc., has disappeared from the map. Perhaps the most pervading question was the one least answered in the days immediately following the company's April 6 announcement that it was closing all 562 outlets nationwide: Why? Following a wave of press releases issued during a storm of litigation and accusation between it and Kmart Corp., Troy-based Penske Auto Centers (PAC) finally offered a reason for the closure.
Sept. 29, 2003: TBC buys NTB PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla.—TBC Corp. is a step closer to building a true nationwide empire in the U.S. retail tire market. Fulfilling its promise to pursue more acquisitions for its Tire Kingdom Inc. subsidiary, TBC Corp. signed a definitive agreement Sept. 22 to buy the National Tire & Battery store chain from Sears, Roebuck and Co. for $260 million.
July 5, 2004: Industry divided on 'right to repair' WASHINGTON—After nearly two years, the automotive aftermarket is still split on whether independent auto repairers need legislation to force auto makers to provide them with service and diagnostic tools and information.
April 11, 2005: Industry not happy with final TPMS rule WASHINGTON—The tire industry is no happier with the new final rule on tire pressure monitoring systems than it was with the old one, according to the Rubber Manufacturers Association (RMA). The new standard issued April 7 still maintains the requirement that a tire pressure warning light should illuminate only after one or more tires on a vehicle falls 25 percent or more below the vehicle manufacturer's recommended air pressure. This, the RMA claims, is simply inadequate to protect motorists from the tire damage and accidents caused by severely underinflated tires.
March 27, 2006: Ford plans to petition NHTSA for six year tire life advisory DETROIT—Ford Motor Co. will petition the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration for a consumer advisory that motorists change their tires after six years, a top Ford scientist said at the 22nd Annual Clemson Tire Industry Conference on Hilton Head Island March 15-17.
July 30, 2007: Gabrielle Giffords—Red, white & true blue...to tire industry, Congress WASHINGTON—It's a long way from selling tires to the halls of Congress, but the trip may not be as strange as it seems. At 26, Gabrielle Giffords was president of her family's business, Tucson, Ariz.-based El Campo Tire & Service Centers Inc., an 11-store chain with 100 employees and annual revenues of $10 million. Last November, at 36, she was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives, representing Tucson and the surrounding 9,000-square-mile 8th Congressional District.
July 7, 2008: Weighty issue: Industry's still moving to get lead out—of wheel weights LA VERGNE, Tenn.—The tire distribution business may not be hurrying to get the lead out of wheel balancing weights, but it definitely is moving in that direction. BADA, the wheel weight manufacturing division of La Vergne-based Hennessy Industries Inc., has launched a website, www.steelwheelweights.com, that touts the environmental benefits of steel wheel weights in general and BADA's steel weights in particular.
Sept. 12, 2009: Obama orders tariffs on Chinese tires (Web-only story) WASHINGTON (Sept. 12, 2009)—Late on Sept. 11, President Obama issued an order imposing tariffs on passenger and light truck tires imported from China. The tariffs, issued under Section 421 of the Trade Act, will amount to 35 percent the first year, 30 percent the second year and 25 percent the third.
April 26, 2010: Pep Boys expanding PHILADELPHIA—Pep Boys-Manny, Moe & Jack plans to open 40 Service & Tire Centers locations this year and as many as 80 in 2011 after opening 24 of the smaller, tire and auto service-dedicated sites during fiscal 2009. Pep Boys launched the Service & Tire Centers concept last June with the goal of opening 15 such stores throughout fiscal 2009. That goal expanded in September with the purchase of Florida Tire Inc. and its 10 retail tire stores in the Orlando, Fla., area.
Sept. 26, 2011: $1.2B+ investment—Bridgestone OTR tire plant in S.C. NASHVILLE, Tenn.—Bridgestone Americas will invest more than $1.2 billion in the coming two to three years to build a radial OTR tire plant in Aiken County, S.C., expand capacity at its existing Aiken consumer tire plant and expand a steel cord factory in Clarksville, Tenn.
Oct. 8, 2012: Tire tariffs fini—now what? WASHINGTON—After three years, the tariffs on Chinese passenger tires are history, expiring at midnight on Sept. 26. The much-debated—and in some quarters maligned—tariffs were levied under Section 421 of the Trade Act after a petition for relief by the United Steelworkers (USW) union. Their end has spawned reports of Chinese tire factories gearing up to meet demand, as well as speculation from industry analysts that U.S. tire prices could come down sharply in the foreseeable future. Have a top headline suggestion—or special tire industry memory?
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