Published on November 8, 2013

From Point A to Section IV: Random industry thoughts

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Opinion

Every issue our managing editor comes into my office to consider the stories we will publish and where they will appear. The conversation starts at A, diverts to Part 3, wanders to Section XX and ultimately circles back to B.

It's not Attention Deficit Syndrome. It's just that as journalists, and particularly managers, we spend our days in constant interruption and are able to shift focus quickly. Which means I have lots of random thoughts wandering through my mind all day. Here are some of the current ones:

Really? No website? I was editing some rubber industry listings and found a couple of companies that have no website, not even a Facebook page. Amazing.

Personally, I'm an anti-social media type, but a company that isn't on the web in any form isn't just out of step with business, it's not even standing in formation.

Thieves among us. In all the years I've covered the rubber industry, I never heard of a company at an exhibition that had its equipment lifted. That's what happened to Alpha Technologies at the recent Rubber Division expo in Cleveland, losing a unit for dispersion testing and accompanying computer. Talk about corporate espionage.

We'll see how this plays out. Cameras are everywhere today, so perhaps the culprits will be caught that way. Or if a company somewhere suddenly develops similar technology to Alpha—you know the FBI will be interested.

Meaning that stolen Dell computer is good for looking at YouTube, but not much else.

Buyer's remorse. Anything can happen in the rubber industry—a belief I've held since Goodyear got shaken down, but avoided a takeover, by a corporate raider in the 1980s. But a divorce between Cooper Tire and Apollo Tyres before they even consummate their marriage is awfully strange.

This is why we refer to "tentative" deals in stories. Nothing is done until it's done.

What could have been a seminal event in the tire industry has turned into a courtroom and public relations fight. Does Apollo now believe its bid was much too high, that there are too many variables—from the required successor pacts with the United Steelworkers to a plant in China of which Cooper seems to have lost control—to make this work?

No one really knows how this will play out. I can promise, though, it will make interesting reading.

Love-in. The 25-Year Club luncheon at Rubber Division meetings always is popular among its participants, veterans of the industry. The one at the recent division meeting in Cleveland was special.

John Deputy of Americas International, who serves as chairman of the affair, organized a tribute to Ralph Graff, his predecessor at the club, who will turn 90 this year. If you know Graff, I don't have to say anything about him—if you don't, the fact he was called "Mr. Rubber Division" for all he's contributed to the organization says enough.

Graff, who isn't travelling, was on speaker phone during a slide show about him and various comments from his friends.

Well deserved and well done.

Noga is the editor of Rubber & Plastics News.

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