Retiring Hercules Chief Looks Back
(Akron/Tire Review) In 1958 Craig Anderson sold his first set of Goodyear Double Eagles while working at his uncle’s tyre store in New York state. Now, after 40-plus years in the tyre and rubber industry, Craig has stepped down as president and chief executive officer of Hercules Tire & Rubber Co.
“They say when you get carbon dust in your blood, it stays there,” said Anderson, 64, who retired at the end of October, concluding a nearly 30-year career at Hercules. Anderson is a Seneca Falls, N.Y., native who earned a bachelor’s degree with honors in marketing from Michigan State University in 1963. He completed postgraduate studies at Ohio State University. After graduating, Anderson took a job with Akron’s Firestone Tire & Rubber Co. in advertising and public relations.
He then served as marketing manager of Firestone’s Fidesta Tire in Columbus from 1966-1972, and later did a three-year stint as marketing manager of Barberton’s Firestone Seiberling Tire. From 1975-1976, Anderson was manager of international marketing at Firestone’s corporate headquarters in Akron.
Asked how he decided to enter the tyre and rubber industry, Anderson explained that his uncle, Charles Anderson, owned a tyre and oil distributor store that he worked at during his college years. So when he graduated from college, Anderson said: “I had a bit of a tyre background…I gravitated toward something I knew.”
As far as going to work for Firestone, Anderson noted how it had an executive management program. “Firestone, in the industry, was known as a good teacher,” Anderson said. “In the 1960s, it was one of the best places to learn your trade.”
Anderson said he enjoyed working in some of Firestone’s divisions, but by 1976 he had come back to the larger corporate environment in Akron. “It didn’t quite fit me,” Anderson said. “There’s enjoyment working in a smaller organization.”
Anderson also was facing a possible transfer to England, and he started reading the “help wanted” ads, a move which landed him in Findlay, Ohio, as vice president of sales and marketing for Hercules Tire & Rubber Co. in 1976.
Hercules was founded in 1952 by a group of New England retreaders when it bought a company called Atlas Rubber Products Co. in Stamford, Connecticut In 1958, the company changed its name to Hercules and began distributing its own brand of tyres, a rather novel idea at the time.
Anderson built the tyre programme, taking the company’s tyre sales from $33 million in 1976 to $380 million today. Anderson’s original staff of about five people has grown in North America to about 350 employees.
From 1981-1986, Anderson served as executive vice president, and from 1986 until his recent retirement, he held the title of president and CEO.
In May 2005, Hercules Tire was acquired by a New York City-based private equity firm, FdG Associates of New York. Through the transaction, FdG became the majority stakeholder and Hercules’ senior management team became the minority stakeholder.
Asked to reflect on his career here, Anderson said: “I always had a great team of people.” Anderson said he will continue to serve for another year on the Hercules board of directors.
With his retirement, Hercules’ senior management team now consists of Larry Seawell, who has become president and CEO; Mike Distel, president of the US tyre division; Rob Keller, president of the Canadian tyre division; and Joe Recchia, president of the export division.