By Pete Selleck, Chairman and president, Michelin North America Inc.
GREENVILLE, S.C. — In the 1970s, South Carolina's once-flourishing textile industry entered the early stages of a long decline. A seismic economic change would unfold across the following decades. Who would predict that an “overseas” company would fill the void in South Carolina with tires?
The man behind this vision was Francois Michelin, who placed his first U.S. tire plant in “Upstate” South Carolina 40 years ago.
Mr. Michelin was 88 when he died in France earlier this week. As one of the great patriarchs of Michelin, he led our company for 47 years, longer than any other person in the company's 126-year history. In addition to transforming South Carolina to become the nation's No. 1 tire producer — many competitors eventually would follow Michelin to South Carolina — he also transformed the French company into the world's largest tire manufacturer, and arguably the best as well.
More important, however, were Mr. Michelin's character, humanity, values, imagination and courageous foresight — an unwavering legacy that has led to 10 Michelin manufacturing plants and nearly 9,000 employees across South Carolina.
Today, our company operates 20 plants in 17 locations and employs more than 22,750 people across North America. All of us are proud members of the Michelin family.
“François Michelin tirelessly embodied the values of respect that are the very foundation of our Group's identity,” said Jean-Dominique Senard, chief executive officer of Michelin Group.