If the folks at Goodyear learned anything from former chairman Stanley Gault, it is the power of suggestion. In the early days of his chairmanship, Gault was introduced to the Aquatred tire. He saw that it was a good product and marketed the tire as if it were the greatest thing since mother's milk. The rest is history.
Now Goodyear, with dazzling hoopla, has rolled out its run-flat tire, featuring new cord technology. And if that weren't enough, the company followed with a major public relations event for the media, customers and Wall Street securities analysts on its new IMPACT manufacturing technology.
Goodyear officials say the new tires and highly efficient technology will catapult it over Bridgestone Corp. and Groupe Michelin into the No. 1 spot in the tire rankings. The company already is installing its new automated cellular manufacturing processes at existing plants. Analysts see that as a competitive advantage, since its rivals' own automated systems so far have required entirely new factories, an expensive proposition.
Goodyear long has had the motto, ``No. 1 in Tires.'' All its actions now point to the company trying to match those words with reality. By loudly proclaiming its new tires, technology and lofty ambitions, Goodyear's getting its message out and catching the attention of Wall Street. Smart move.
Goodyear isn't alone in this war of words. Its rivals are talking up their own technology and products, with similar gusto. Bridgestone/Firestone Inc., for example, issued a news-less news release recently to proclaim it ``has long been at the forefront of run-flat tire technology.'' Michelin's Uniroyal Tire business renamed an updated Royal Seal technology NailGard and pledged to spend $15 million to promote it.
In the tire field, one-upmanship is a virtue. And no one beats Goodyear when it comes to one-upmanship. The company recently held its dealer meeting in Nashville, Tenn., deep in the heart of Bridgestone/Firestone country.
We look for Bridgestone/Firestone to be renting out E.J. Thomas Hall in Akron for its dealer meeting next year.