AKRON — Goodyear CEO, President and Chairman Richard Kramer announced Wednesday that he will retire in 2024 after leading the company for 14 years.
The announcement came just before an investor meeting to discuss the Goodyear board's Strategic and Operational Review Committee which was formed after investors demanded changes.
Elliott Investment Management L.P., a West Palm Beach, Fla.-based investment firm, sent a letter on May 11 to Kramer and its board of directors, detailing the firm's dissatisfaction with what it calls Goodyear's poor stock performance.
In response July 25, Goodyear added three to its board of directors. The Goodyear board also established the Review Committee to "oversee and support the board and management's review of various strategic and operational alternatives to maximize sustainable shareholder-value creation and build upon a number of initiatives that Goodyear has been executing," the company said in July.
"Reflecting on the past 14 years, it has been an incredible privilege to lead this iconic American company as chairman, CEO and president. As we embark on our next stage of growth, I am confident that our Goodyear Forward plan will build an even stronger foundation for the next generation of leadership to continue paving the way for Goodyear's enduring success," Kramer said.
"I am fully engaged in driving the successful execution of the plan and, with the support and involvement of the board, will assist with the transition when my successor is identified. Over the coming months, we have substantial work to do to execute the Goodyear Forward plan to deliver profitable growth and value, leveraging our renowned leadership in brands, technology and premium products."
During his tenure, Kramer was "responsible for driving strategic initiatives that delivered the five highest annual segment operating income marks in the company's history," Goodyear said.
In the Tire Business annual Top 75 Global Tire Report, Goodyear has consistently ranked as the No. 3 tire maker in the world, based on tire sales, during Kramer's time at the helm.
He spearheaded construction of new plants and facilities, including the global headquarters that opened in Akron in 2013.
He led the modernization of the Goodyear airship program. Goodyear christened the first of three new ships, Wingfoot One, in 2014.
In 2018, Goodyear and Bridgestone Corp. launched TireHub L.L.C. The national tire distributor has 80 distribution centers and announced plans in July to build a regional distribution center by the end of the year. TireHub did not disclose the location of the warehouse.
In 2021, Kramer led Goodyear through the acquisition of Cooper Tire & Rubber Co., then ranked the No. 13 tire maker in the world.
Kramer joined Goodyear as vice president of corporate finance in 2000. He was vice president of finance in North America (2002-03), executive vice president and chief financial officer (2003-07) and president of Goodyear North America (2007-10). He was named CEO and board president in 2010.
Prior to joining Goodyear, the Cleveland, Ohio native was a partner with PricewaterhouseCoopers.
Kramer was paid the equivalent of $10.3 million in 2022, according to a proxy filing in June as reported by Crain's Cleveland Business. His pay package last year included a base salary of approximately $1.37 million as well as a mix of stock awards, incentives and other financial compensation. About 55% of Kramer's pay was in the form of stock.
At $10.3 million, Kramer's total compensation last year was about 52% less than his 2021 compensation of $21.4 million. That year, Kramer was paid $10.7 million in stock plus $9.07 million in incentives.
"On behalf of our entire board, I extend deep gratitude to Rich for his outstanding leadership and innumerable contributions to Goodyear over the course of his distinguished career," Laurette T. Koellner, independent lead director of Goodyear's board, said.
"He successfully navigated Goodyear through a number of challenging cycles, including the aftermath of the financial crisis and the global pandemic. Throughout his tenure, Rich has led the company with a clear long-term vision that positioned Goodyear as a leader at the forefront of the industry, with unmatched competitive advantages.
"Consistent with Rich's intent to retire and as part of the board's ongoing succession planning process, the board is committed to a thorough, comprehensive and timely search to identify a proven leader with the skills and expertise to further advance the Goodyear Forward plan."