Six chief executives in six years. That's Pirelli Group's dubious formula for success at its U.S. operations. Since Pirelli bought the old Armstrong Rubber Co. in 1988, there's been a revolving door at the highest level of the company's U.S. business. First it was Paul James, a holdover from the Armstrong days. He left in 1992, replaced by Giuseppe Morchio, followed by Paul Calvi, Giovanni Ferrario, Ric Miller and, now, Carlo Bianconi.
This is not the way to treat a business in one of the world's largest tire markets.
Miller had the shortest tenure, less than a year. The company and Miller won't say why he ``voluntarily'' left Nov. 12. A Pirelli North America spokesman said the parent firm believes its U.S. operations will be in better hands with someone well-experienced with the Pirelli Group.
In late 1997 Pirelli was saying just the opposite. Miller's appointment fit in with the belief an American team was needed to run the business.
Such is life at Pirelli in the U.S., where flip-flopping on strategy and management seems to be the norm.
The company wants to get original equipment contracts but buys a tire maker that has none except in the agricultural sector. Then it sells the farm tire business.
It declares it wants to focus on the Pirelli brand; the next year it touts the value of having both the premium Pirelli and cheaper Armstrong brands; then it dumps the Armstrong brand.
It's even on its third corporate name since buying Armstrong Tire.
Get the point?
Pirelli has been criticized by many in the industry for failing to make a solid plan and sticking to it. If the company would just do that, maybe it could succeed. Like Bridgestone Corp. did—a company whose Firestone plants were just as unprofitable and whose union troubles were even worse.
Here's hoping Bianconi is given a chance to make it work.