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New Continental Tire president stresses fiscal responsibility

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Dr. Ulrich Wellen, the new CEO and president of Continental Tire North America Inc. (CTNA), says he is going back to the basics to bring profitability back to the company.

He says two of the company's three business units lost money in 2001 -- the PLT (Passenger and Light Truck) Division and the Mexican Division. Although the Commercial Division was in the black, it "cannot cover the losses of the other two."

Wellen blames most of the loss in Mexico to operational inefficiencies, which have been cleaned up. One example is the Guadalajara tire manufacturing facility, which was closed last year after fruitless negotiations with union workers.

However, the PLT Division has lost money for three years.

"My target is to have all of the business units at least break even this year," he says. "I wouldn't make this statement unless I had a reasonable plan behind me.

"That's the reason I'm here. I will realize it and hopefully in two years nobody will talk about these things anymore. I want to have it fixed, and that means even if the economy is down, the company is creating profit."

"We have a solid dealer base, and if we do our homework, we'll do better. We'll do our homework."

Wellen stresses "personal reponsibility" about the business unit leaders. Mike Barker, vice president of sales and marketing for the PLT Division, and Tom Roydhouse, senior vice president of the Commercial Division, will be responsible for their respective groups. They also will be delegating responsibility so that their dealers can get answers to questions more quickly.

The PLT Division will follow a consistent strategy, he says. "We had a lot of good ideas in the past, but because of the economy we changed, or we stopped, or we adapted. There was no consistency."

The company has to win back credibility by doing what it says it will do, he says. "If we talk about a product launch for March 1, then we launch it on March 1... no excuses."

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