Goodyear discloses plans for 2002

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Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. will base its 2002 growth on revenue-per-tire increases and ongoing cost reductions, Goodyear officials said in a press conference this morning.

Revenue-per-tire "is the cornerstone of our business and marketing strategy," according to Goodyear President Bob Keegan.

Keegan says there is "significant room for improvement" in brand, product, dealer and consumer mix.

"We intend to be first to market with high-impact products that enrich our mix," including a new Eagle F1 tire that debuted in Europe yesterday and is slated for the North American market.

Goodyear also plans to reposition its Dunlop brand in North America by boosting the label's awareness and increasing its distribution.

Dunlop will be promoted as "The Driver's Tire" for motoring enthusiasts, Keegan says.

In addition, Goodyear will focus on "building the cradle-to-grave capabilities" of its truck tire business by investing more in research and development and increasing its sales and service personnel.

And the tiremaker will continue to focus on the run-flat niche this year. "There's a consumer need and there's a major gap to be filled. We intend to fill that gap."

Goodyear's shift to "flexible manufacturing" will enhance cost reduction, say company officials.

It will focus on "faster changeovers, quicker processing time and the ability to do short runs effectively," plus more outsourcing.

Thanks to new labor agreements, "we can respond to demand almost immediately... in most plants," says Goodyear Chairman and CEO Sam Gibara.

Goodyear also will reduce its SKUs "to reduce compexity," engage in more direct shipping, and streamline its purchasing practices.

The company's G3 Xpress distribution program, announced late last year, is starting to pay off, according to officials. "The result has been a net savings for us, a win for the wholesaler -- they get incremental business -- a win for the dealer, who gets better service from the wholesaler than they got from Goodyear, and a win for customers," says Keegan.

"The company is in a much better position than one year ago," says Gibara.

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