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I read this release out of GT yesterday afternoon. Is there a vision? No acquisitions this year--I thought that pretty well went without saying since the stock is down over 50% in 6 months, and we're testing new lows today. Do you see a plan for 2000?--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Goodyear Chairman Discusses 2000 Plans

January 20, 2000 04:32 PM
LAS VEGAS, Jan. 20 /PRNewswire/ -- Speaking to the largest gathering of customers in the company's history, Goodyear's top executive today outlined plans to improve performance in the coming year.
"If last year's strategy could be described as one of aggressive acquisition and ambitious rationalization, then the strategy for a turnaround in 2000 -- in contrast -- will be one of consolidation," said Samir G. Gibara, chairman, CEO and president of The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company.

"It is natural that a major acquisition should be followed by a pause before resuming a new round of further expansion," he said. During 1999, Goodyear acquired control of the Dunlop tire businesses in North America and Europe.

Gibara told the 4,500-member audience -- tire dealers and major replacement market customers of the company's North American Tire business unit -- that they "occupy a very significant place" in this strategy.

During 2000, he said Goodyear's business plan calls for: concentrating on sales growth in existing businesses; enhancing product and service quality; completing the integration and upgrading of its global operations; increasing productivity; significantly improving its financial performance; and solidifying its relationship with customers.

"Consolidating and integrating our acquisitions is a priority," Gibara told the tire customers. "This is important to you in North America because we will be helping fill your needs for competitively priced, value-line tires from our facilities in Eastern Europe and Turkey, as well as Brazil, Mexico and Venezuela."

Gibara said the company's global sourcing capability enables it to grow its replacement tire business faster than its business with automakers. "This manufacturing strategy is in the best interest of our customers in terms of product quality, availability and price. It means more replacement products, higher fill rates, faster delivery and better service."

Gibara said excellent customer service -- even in this era of electronic commerce and instant communications -- remains based on interpersonal, one-on- one relationships.

"Today's standard by which customers measure relationships with suppliers has become a lot more quantitative," he said. "I strongly believe that as long as there will be people making business decisions, there cannot be a viable substitution for personal relationships based on mutual trust and respect. Loyalty cannot be subject to a click of the mouse.

"Customers want and need a personal experience. They desire personal contact. They demand personal attention. And, they will do business with those companies that provide the human touch," he continued.

"I pledge to you today that we will continue to provide that human touch that has made our relationship with you so special and the envy of our industry. No matter how large the Goodyear franchise is, and no matter how diversified our channels of distribution become, we must learn to continue to treat our customers one at a time, all the time."

Gibara called the tire dealers who sell its Goodyear, Kelly and Dunlop brand tires "the tire industry's single most powerful sales force" and thanked them for their continued loyalty. He said Goodyear and its customers "have a special relationship that can endure the best and the worst of times.

"I speak for the entire family -- Goodyear, Kelly and Dunlop -- when I say that we covet this relationship. I recognize the enormous responsibility we have to correct what is wrong and never stop improving what is right."

Goodyear is the world's largest tire and rubber company. Headquartered in Akron, Ohio, the company manufactures tires, engineered rubber products and chemicals in more than 90 facilities in 30 countries. It has marketing operations in almost every country around the world. Goodyear, with the addition of its Dunlop tire joint ventures, employs more than 105,000 people worldwide.

SOURCE The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company

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