QUINCY, Ill. — In the wake of President Donald Trump's calling for a boycott of Goodyear tires, Titan International Inc. issued a statement distinguishing the relationship between the two tire makers and distancing itself from the incident in question.
Titan produces and sells Goodyear-brand farm tires throughout the Americas and much of Europe under a license agreement with the Akron-based tire maker.
Titan CEO Paul Reitz said his company "felt it was important to make clear that Titan is in no way connected" to a recent diversity training session at Goodyear's plant in Topeka, Kan., where slides reportedly were shown to illustrate what messages employees would be allowed to display and on what apparel.
Mr. Trump's Make America Great Again (MAGA) slogan is shown in one slide as being unacceptable along with "All Political Slogans or Material" as well as "Blue Lives Matter" and "All Lives Matter." The slide lists work apparel promoting "Black Lives Matter" and "Lesbian, Gay Bisexual, Transgender Pride. (LGBT)" as acceptable.
The slides were circulated widely on social media.
"While Titan has licensing rights to design, produce and sell the Goodyear farm tires brand, we are an entirely separate publicly held entity under separate management," Mr. Reitz said in a statement, "and have no shared staff or facilities with Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co."
Titan lauded President Trump for his expressed support for U.S. manufacturers through his "Buy America" campaign.
"Titan has long been a champion of American manufacturing and has invested heavily in legal action to protect American manufacturing jobs," the company said, citing a 5-0 ruling from the International Trade Commission in 2017 in Titan's favor, protecting against unfair trade practices from India and Sri Lanka related to off-road tires.
In this respect, Mr. Reitz said, Mr. Trump and Titan are "well aligned" in protecting the 2,100-plus workers employed by Titan at plants in Illinois, Iowa, Ohio and Tennessee who make tires and wheels under the Titan and Goodyear brands.
Titan said that any movement to boycott Goodyear-brand farm tires would adversely affect thousands of family-owned tire businesses nationwide.
Earlier this summer, Titan initiated a fundraising campaign, dubbed "Goodyears Ahead," to recognize and thank those in agriculture who continue to work hard on food production during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Titan selected five nonprofit groups — Future Farmers of America; Feeding America; Farm Rescue; Frontline Foods; and Action Against Hunger Canada — as the groups to benefit from the campaign.
Titan said it also also played a vital role as an essential service during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. When others shut down, Titan ensured safe operation to keep agricultural operations working with the equipment they need to do their jobs.
Quincy-based Titan also wanted to remind customers that it remains committed to employee safety, in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
"Titan is proud of the important role we play in our nation's critical infrastructure during the COVID-19 pandemic, as our plants have continued to operate safely in support of the farming and construction industries," Reitz said.
"Titan has a diverse workforce throughout all of our locations in the U.S. that build some of the world's best agriculture, construction, and forestry wheels and tires," the CEO said.
"While at work, we believe our employees should be focused on operating safely and manufacturing high-quality products, and therefore employees are allowed to wear what they would like as long as it meets safety standards and isn't offensive."