Continental continues changes in North America

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There have been lots of changes in Continental Tire North America Inc.'s PLT (Passenger and Light Truck) division in the last 30 days.

The latest involves a restructuring of the PLT field sales force to make it more customer-focused.

The new Continental Tire North America (CTNA) structure has been set up like this: A team of account managers (AM), managed by a corporate account manager (CAM), has been assigned to a customer group and will act as the direct link to CTNA’s corporate office.

"We are excited about the new structure, which will continue to show our customers in the U.S. and Canada that we are dedicated to their business and want to help them meet the needs of their customers in a real-time environment," says Jim Seidel, director of dealer replacement sales.

"The teams are now more focused on the individual business needs of each customer and can therefore provide greater customer service."

Corporate account managers for the strategic customer groups are Heather Kirkland (Treadtech), Rick Maier (ACCC) and Kevin Naumann (TAG). In addition, two national dealer managers (NDM) and their teams will concentrate on independent tire dealers in the U.S. and Canada.

"This realignment is another key element in our overall strategy to become a profitable business unit for Continental AG and enable us to be a stronger partner for our customers in North America," says Andreas Gerstenberger, CTNA’s vice president, PLT replacement sales and marketing.

In April, Continental announced it was reducing production at its Mayfield, Ky., passenger and light truck tire manufacturing plant from 10,900 tires a day to 7,300 tires a day, effective July 2004.

"We must remain cost-competitive in our industry and to this end, continually evaluate all of our production facilities," said CTNA CEO and President Martin de Louw at the time.

Continental also announced it will raise prices on all its Continental, General, Semperit and private brand tires effective June 1.

A Continental spokesperson said the price increases were necessary due to the escalation of raw material prices.

As of May 5, Continental AG's stock was selling for $46.05 a share. That's a 21% increase since the end of 2003.

Continental AG recorded consolidated net income of 314 million euros ($355.7 million) for the 2003 fiscal year. That compares to net income of 226 million euros ($256 million) in 2002.

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