Darren Thomas to Replace Richard Smallwood as Top SRNA Exec

Dec. 8, 2021

Richard Smallwood, president and CEO of Sumitomo Rubber North America (SRNA) - a Sumitomo Rubber Industries Ltd. (SRI) subsidiary - has announced his retirement. He will be succeeded on Jan. 1 by Darren Thomas, who was named SRNA's senior vice president and chief operating officer this past year.

Smallwood has served as president and CEO of SRNA for 16 years, according to a statement from SRNA. He currently serves as executive officer for SRI and is on the board of Sumitomo Rubber USA LLC (SRUSA). His career with the company dates back to 2000, when was hired as vice president of sales and marketing for Falken Tire Corp., which was later renamed SRNA.

Outside of SRNA, Smallwood serves on the board of directors of the U.S. Tire Manufacturers Association. 

"During Mr. Smallwood’s tenure at SRNA, he has overseen a major transformation of the tire brand, growing it from its small presence in North America to one that now embraces a U.S. factory; multiple racing championships, including domination in Formula Drift; and victories in numerous arenas of motorsports, from off-road to IMSA," say SRNA officials.

"In addition, SRNA has experienced tremendous growth under Mr. Smallwood’s leadership. The company has expanded its original equipment placement and fitment on leading vehicles across the automotive spectrum; repositioned a sister brand in Ohtsu tires; taken on the Dunlop motorcycle brand; built a new corporate headquarters in suburban Los Angeles; provided additional training and customer service programs for Falken retailer partners through Falken Academy; and launched dozens of new tire introductions for vehicles in every category.

"The Falken brand has seen incredible success with its Azenis high-performance line (and) Wildpeak light truck and off-road lines, as well as Ziex, Winterpeak and Sincera tire lines."

“Our company is filled with extremely talented and dedicated people, all working together to build our business and provide our customers with quality tires that give them lasting experiences,” says Smallwood. “It has been such an incredible honor to work here. Every day has been different – busy, for sure – and we have collectively achieved so many results.

"I’m proud of what’s been accomplished during my time here and I know that SRNA is in great hands with Darren taking over, as he’s been a big part of the company’s tremendous growth and expansion, as well.”

Thomas has worked with Smallwood since 1995, when the latter first hired him. He served in multiple sales and marketing roles at SRNA before moving into the COO role and is highly regarded for his “aggressive and analytical style," according to SRNA officials. 

Upon his retirement, Smallwood will transition to chairman of the board for SRNA and will serve as an advisor for SRI. He also will continue to serve on the board of directors for SRUSA. 

A lifelong car and motorcycle enthusiast, Smallwood plans to pursue his many hobbies during retirement.