AKRON — As the world starts to ease COVID-19 pandemic restrictions, tire makers are charting a course back to production.
Widespread business closures have rocked economies, companies and personal pocketbooks, but amid the chaos of the pandemic, calls for resuming normal commerce have grown increasingly vocal.
Like all businesses, Goodyear is navigating in a world where people are expected to wear masks, and social distancing is the norm.
"We are implementing a phased approach to restart production based upon regular assessments of local market conditions and inventory levels across each product segment," Goodyear CEO Rich Kramer said.
"As we think about bringing the majority of our workforce outside of China back to the workplace, our top priority remains safeguarding the health and well-being of our associates. Our leaders are working to implement measures recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other leading authorities," he said. That includes "attention to personal hygiene, enhanced disinfection, visitor protocols, and physical distancing."
- This article appears in the May 11 print edition of Tire Business.
Goodyear said it is keeping a keen eye on its suppliers to ensure needed materials are ready for when the company starts ramping up production.
"Our supply-chain and procurement teams are working nonstop to ensure we have adequate breadth and depth of the required raw materials so that we can move quickly once we see the relevant market signals. At this point, our key suppliers remain online or have adequate inventory to meet our needs as our plants reopen," Mr. Kramer said.
Some Goodyear chemical plants have resumed, the CEO said, along with "a limited ramp-up of our commercial truck tire facilities in the U.S. and Europe."
Production in most of the company's consumer tire factories in Europe and Turkey also have resumed, Mr. Kramer said.
Despite the near-term problems created by COVID-19, Mr. Kramer said, "We know mobility will resume and tires will be in demand. Our team is experienced in dealing with market volatility."
One Goodyear tire plant that will not reopen, however, is in Gadsden, Ala., where employees agreed recently to a permanent closure. Unionized employees had a contract required that the plant stay open through 2022 but agreed to allow the plant to cease operations.