Stephan Kessel, Continental’s CEO: A Separation On Friendly Terms
Someone who acquires a seat at the top, and even reaches the CEO position at Continental, will neither be fired nor will he just quit. There is what is called a separation on friendly terms. The question whether Kessel and von Grünberg could ever have been friends is not even relevant. Whoever thinks that von Grünberg just shrugged and happily retired to some comptroller’s position will find out that he was wrong. Von Grünberg is the type of man who may occasionally loosen the handcuffs, writes a German daily newspaper, but he also tightens them again. His thumb pointed downwards, and that gesture determined Kessel’s future, and the whole board went along, including the banker Weiss.
CEO of the Continental Board, Dr. Stephan Kessel (47), has resigned and left the company. The Supervisory Board announced his successor as Manfred Wennemer (53). Wennemer was formerly responsible for the ContiTech division.
In his statement to senators in the USA, Bridgestone/Firestone chairman and chief executive Mr. Masatoshi Ono apologised to the families who have lost loved ones in these terrible rollover accidents. This was interpreted by some as an attempt to put some responsibility on to the vehicle, rather than the tyres alone. Fords chief executive, Jacques Nasser, is reported to have said later that the issue is to do with tyres and not vehicles.
John T. Lampe, Executive Vice President of Bridgestone/Firestone Inc., has been made Chairman, Chief Executive Officer and President of the American company. He joined Bridgestone/Firestone in 1973 and has a wealth of international experience with the company. Lampe succeeds Masatoshi Ono (63), who has been with Bridgestone for 41 years, having spent the last ten years in the US and the last seven as CEO. He immediately announced a three-point action plan with the aim of accelerating the tyre recall, assembling a new management team and creating new methods of collecting and examining performance data. His appointment follows personal intervention in the crisis by Yoichiro Kaizaki, Chief Executive Officer of the parent company Bridgestone Corporation. Fuller details in the November issue of TYRES & ACCESSORIES.
Ford Ambitious to Become Largest Tyre Marketer in USA
American trends, schemes that have proved successful on the other side of the big pond, will spill over to Europe after a short delay. That has always been so. So watch out for the letters FCSD and remember that they stand for Ford Customer Service Division. The car giant has just started a strong advertising campaign in North America, introducing to the public America’s Newest Tire Store, a network of 2,400 of the current 5,000 Ford and Lincoln Mercury dealers. According to a Ford spokesman, this is the latest step in providing customers with everything they really need, and all at one stop. The Ford and Lincoln dealers, he claimed, have suitable business premises, sufficient relevant expertise and the scope to offer competitive prices – with the express advance warning that Ford has no intention to be cheap but will market tyres at a fair price. Tyre manufacturers build tyres to Ford specifications, the spokesman explained, and it would therefore only be a natural progression for the company to market original replacement parts. Thus only original equipment suppliers will be able to take part in the Ford replacement business. To give the project a kick-start the company currently runs a lavish and expensive TV campaign (costs are not disclosed), later to be supported and partly replaced by radio advertising and direct mailing. Carl Bergmann, Customer Service Operations Manager, can see no point in sending customers away in future when they want to buy tyres. And these are certainly not empty words: In July 1998 the Ford organisation sold a mere 700 tyres, the figure for this July was 97,000, and that is only a start. The sales target for the current year is one million tyres, three million in the year 2000, to be doubled again to six million units in 2001, at least according to a Ford Motor Co. spokesman talking to the press. These are large numbers indeed, but not unrealistically so, because if each of the currently participating 2,400 dealers only sells one set of tyres per day, the three-million barrier will be breached.