Kramer Elected Goodyear CEO & President
On April 13 Richard J. Kramer will slide into the pilot’s seat at Goodyear and take the controls from Robert J. Keegan. The company’s Board of Directors announced Kramer’s upcoming appointment as Goodyear Tire & Rubber chief executive officer and president on February 24, and further stated his election to the board. Keegan, who has served as CEO and president since 2003, will remain executive chairman of the board.
“Mentoring and working side-by-side with Rich for more than nine years I’ve witnessed his strong professional growth whether it be his critical role in creating our strategy, his creation of a world class financial team as CFO, or his team building, leadership and motivational abilities in leading North American Tire through one of the most difficult periods in history,” Keegan stated. “Rich brings to the table a deep knowledge of Goodyear, our global markets, manufacturing, finance and technology, which will lead Goodyear to the next level. Our company will be in good hands.”
Kramer, 46, who was named chief operating officer in June 2009, spent the previous three years leading the company’s North American Tire business with a focus on customers and new product and process innovation. Prior to his North America assignment, he spent three years as executive vice president and chief financial officer. Kramer joined Goodyear as vice president of corporate finance in 2000. He was named senior vice president of strategy in 2003 where he began developing Goodyear’s strategy. Prior to joining Goodyear, Kramer spent 13 years with PricewaterhouseCoopers where he served in a variety of roles in the United States and Europe, ultimately as partner.
His appointment sees the end of what James C. Boland, Goodyear’s lead director, has described as “one of the most extraordinary periods in Goodyear’s long and storied history.” Elaborating, Boland commented: “Immediately upon assuming this role, he (Robert Keegan) expertly guided the company through an historic turn-around involving a total transformation of the company, changing company strategy, operational execution and overall company culture. He emphasised outstanding leadership, innovation, performance and a strong focus on customers, and those traits continue to serve as pillars for the company during the recent global economic challenges.”
Keegan, 62, joined Goodyear in 2000 as chief operating officer. He became president and chief executive officer in January 2003 and chairman of the board in July of that same year. Prior to Goodyear, Keegan was an executive vice president of the Eastman Kodak Company. Aside from a two-year stint as an executive vice president for the Avery Dennison Corporation, Keegan spent the bulk of his career from 1972 to 2000 serving in various financial, marketing and operating positions at Eastman Kodak.
“One of the keys to Bob Keegan’s success was his ability to attract and develop an impressive leadership team,” Boland continued. “Through Bob’s mentoring of Rich Kramer over the past nine years, the close partnership that developed as they jointly created the company’s strategy, and with Rich’s successful performance in several critical leadership roles, this decision is the logical and anticipated culmination of a well thought out succession plan.”
“Thanks to Bob’s leadership, our customers and the world see a new Goodyear – one that is more innovative, more agile, and more customer-focused than ever. We have the opportunity to build on that, particularly as the global economy begins to recover,” said Kramer. “I am honoured that Bob and the board have the confidence in me to oversee one of the most recognisable and trusted brands in the world. At the same time I am excited about the opportunities the global tire industry is presenting us. Goodyear is well positioned to take advantage of those opportunities.”
Goodyear lists the important achievements and milestones during Keegan’s tenure with the company as including: transformational innovation across the operations, products and culture; a comprehensive capital structure improvement plan; an integration of two strong brands (Goodyear and Dunlop) in Europe; a refocus on new product development and marketing that resulted in both the highest-selling (Assurance) and fastest selling (FuelMax) tyres in the company’s history; an aggressive and successful focus on high growth emerging markets; a groundbreaking establishment of the Voluntary Employees’ Beneficiary Association Trust (VEBA), which transferred control of North American retirees’ medical benefits to the United Steelworkers Union; and a renewed emphasis on investment in Goodyear’s core businesses.
“I can look back with pride at what our team at Goodyear has accomplished over the past seven years. It is a testament to our leadership team’s ability to design and successfully execute a game-changing business strategy, and to the dedication of Goodyear associates worldwide,” said Keegan. “I also can look forward with much optimism. Rich Kramer is a bright, experienced, energetic and charismatic leader who I believe very strongly is the right person to lead Goodyear into a future with considerable opportunities for growth.”