New year, new business structure – SRI making changes in North America

This dissolution of the global alliance between Sumitomo Rubber Industries (SRI) and Goodyear Tire & Rubber in the second half of 2015 led to significant changes in who is responsible for selling Goodyear and Dunlop tyres in certain markets. In North America, full ownership of the Goodyear Dunlop Tires North America Inc. (GDTNA) joint venture was handed to SRI (Goodyear previously held a 75 per cent share in the venture), and with it control of the Dunlop motorcycle tyre business in North America and the rights to sell Dunlop-brand tyres to Japanese vehicle manufacturers in the USA, Canada and Mexico. SRI’s North American operation has now announced a realignment of its business units that accommodates these new responsibilities and, in the company’s own words, forms “part of a long-term strategy” to further strengthen its competitive position in North America.

The realignment begins with the renaming of wholly-owned SRI subsidiary Falken Tire Corporation to Sumitomo Rubber North America, Inc. (SRNA) on 1 January 2016. Richard Smallwood, who is currently chief executive officer and president of Falken Tire Corporation, will hold these positions in the retitled business.

The creation of SRNA is the first step in the realignment. The second step, which is expected to be realised by the end of March 2016, involves changing the name of GDTNA to Sumitomo Rubber USA, LLC (SRUSA). At the same time, responsibility for sales of original equipment Dunlop branded light vehicle tyres to Japanese vehicle manufacturers and sales of Dunlop motorcycle tyres will transfer from the former GDTNA to SRNA.

Under the new corporate structure, SRNA will operate three separate sales divisions:

1) Dunlop Motorcycle Tire, located in Tonawanda, New York, will be responsible for Dunlop motorcycle tyres sales to both the original equipment and replacement markets.
2) Falken Tire Corporation, located in Rancho Cucamonga, California, will be responsible for replacement market sales of Falken, Ohtsu, and private branded products for the light vehicle and commercial markets.
3) SRNA OE sales, located in Detroit, Michigan, will be responsible for Dunlop branded light vehicle tyres for Japanese OEMs, and Falken branded OE sales for all North America OE customers.

SRNA will provide centralised administrative and logistics support to all three sales divisions.

In addition to the aforementioned realignment of North America business units, SRNA will also take over responsibility for sales and distribution in the Caribbean and Mexico. This transition is expected to occur during the first quarter of 2016.

“The dissolution of the alliance between SRI and Goodyear will provide us the opportunity to quickly and dramatically enhance our service levels to our customers in North America,” stated GDTNA chairman and chief executive officer, Kenji Onga. “We now have local manufacturing, test facilities, and enhanced technical capabilities, all of which will help us better meet our customers’ needs.”

“Having gained a manufacturing facility, test track, and enhanced technical resources, coupled with our new multi-year sponsorship agreement with Major League Baseball and eight new product lines, we feel very confident in our ability to provide our customers the tools they need to profitably grow their business over the long term,” added Richard Smallwood.

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