Michelin Tire Company

About Michelin North America
January 25, 2016 – 06:19 am
Pete Selleck became Chairman

North America

Michelin has been a part of the tire industry in the United States since 1907 when it purchased the International Rubber Company in Milltown, New Jersey. Tires and tubes were manufactured there up until 1930 when the Great Depression took its toll on what had become the fourth largest tire manufacturer in the country with 2, 000 employees. The Michelin North America as we know it today took form In March of 1950. With three sizes and two different tread designs of truck tires made with metallic plies, five people started Michelin Tire Corporation in New York City. There was an executive vice president, a vice president of sales, a secretary, a warehouse supervisor and one newly hired sales representative. The tires cost anywhere from 40-50% more than the competition but their construction with metal plies bonded to rubber allowed Michelin salesmen to offer a tire solution to fleets operating under the most severe conditions. This included fleets dealing with extremely heavy loads and in the sanitation business. This strategy established a reputation of durability and quality still prevalent today in the modern trucking industry.

Growth in sales led to the need for a larger facility in 1954. Developed in 1953, Michelin began to import the all-steel one ply radial truck tire in 1956. This is the tire that revolutionized the world tire market. There was interest in the radial truck, but the bulk of Michelin’s sales were the older, metallic bias ply tires. Even with steady annual growth, the annual sales volume in 1959 were less than a week’s production in a modern truck tire plant.

While the radial passenger tire had been gaining acceptance in Europe with car manufacturers in the late 1950’s, it would be the mid1960’s before it was factor in the United States. Michelin’s world-wide growth in the 1960’s was phenomenal with the opening of twelve new plants and the announcement that a plant would be built in Nova Scotia, Canada by 1971.

Two major events happened in 1966 that drew Michelin into the largest passenger tire market in the world. Up until 1966, Michelin had only been importing small quantities of radial passenger tires to service consumers with European cars originally fitted with Michelin radial tires. That year Ford decided the 1968 Lincoln Continental Mark III would have radial tires as original equipment. Although domestic tire manufacturers had purchased the license to develop radial tires, none were successful in developing a satisfactory radial tire. Ford then selected Michelin to be the supplier. This was a major boost for both the acceptance of the radial tire and establishing Michelin in North America. The second major event that made Michelin a part of the U.S. tire market happened when SEARS went shopping for a radial tire. In an effort to get ahead of its competition and realizing the impending radialization of the tire industry, SEARS sought out a supplier and ultimately selected Michelin for their reputation of high quality and technical expertise in building radial tires. By the end of 1969 expansion necessitated another move to a larger headquarters and the work force had expanded to 250 people. The sales force was now up to 103 people in the field.

Source: www.michelinman.com
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