Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company has announced that they are acquiring Cooper Tire & Rubber Company, strengthening their position in the market, and expanding the number of brands where the rubber meets the road.
Akron, Ohio-based Goodyear, one of the world’s largest tire companies, picked up Cooper, no slouch itself at fifth in size among tire companies. For the foreseeable future, Cooper will remain in Findlay, Ohio, but for how long? Integration is the word of the day, and that means not only combining production here and around the world, but consolidating operations, and with that, customer service.
That last item, customer service, touched a nerve exposed by a call to Xfinity, a Comcast brand, whose support is handled by non-native speakers of a language not recognizable as English. After half an hour discussing an increase in monthly charges, the agent put me on hold, only to never return. Yes, reduce the number of customer service representatives and watch the time spent waiting to speak to an agent rise. Outsourcing calls to some third world country will also not win any fans. Isn’t the whole point in brand-building to retain loyal customers, and attract others based on their positive comments?
With all the legal mumbo jumbo about the actual close of the buy out by Goodyear, it won’t take place until sometime in the second half of 2021, well after the honeymoon is a distant memory. What happens to Goodyear’s value-priced Kelly tires, Fulda, Sava, or even Dunlop? If they’re not familiar to you, then you’re not what the tire companies call a tier 2 or tier 3 buyer. Bargain brands are often sold to warehouses and big box stores, or to mom-and-pop tire shops with one lift if they’re lucky. This allows the latter to be competitive, make a decent margin, and stay in business. Chain stores like Discount Tire or Les Schwab have nice showrooms, clean service bays, and brand-name tires that most consumers are familiar with.
Enthusiasts have to wonder about the fate of Cooper’s Mickey Thompson and Dick Cepek brands, renown in drag racing and off-road. Goodyear’s own drag racing tires may pose a conflict, just as the Cepek and Mickey Thompson off-road tires are more specialized, niche market products. As with any acquisition, merger, or consolidation, only time will tell, just as Coca-Cola and Pepsi have reduced the number of brands available including Pibb Extra, Tab, Vault, Surge, and Powerade.[Images: Goodyear, Mickey Thompson]