The truth is, the future of tire giant Michelin will be different because of the untimely death of Edouard Michelin, CEO of the firm co-founded by his great-grandfather.
We'll just never know now how the French company would have evolved with Edouard Michelin, who died in a boating accident May 26, as a prime leader. That's not to say Michelin is in trouble because of the loss-this is a big company with quality standards, brand mystique and a way of doing business that is ingrained in the corporate culture. Michelin the tire maker will go on.
What the firm will miss is a man, who at 42-a young age for a captain of industry-already had shown strong leadership ability.
Edouard Michelin is credited with leading various changes at the manufacturer to respond to the continuing transformation of the global tire business. The company restructured along product lines instead of geographic regions, and expanded into new and emerging markets in Asia, Europe and South America during Edouard Michelin's tenure.
He helped make some hard decisions, such as when the tire maker cut 7,500 jobs in 1999-2000. Labor, especially in France, denounced the layoffs, while the financial community recognized their necessity. And he was at the forefront of the return of Michelin to Formula 1 racing; the creation of Challenge Bibendum, an effort to promote better use of the world's resources in the vehicle industry; and the adoption of a new corporate identity, ``Michelin: A better way forward,'' to reflect the firm's vision of impacting society positively.
The tire company now is headed solely by Michel Rollier. He was a co-managing partner of the firm with Edouard Michelin and, until he retired May 12, Rene Zingraff. Rollier has stated the company's strategies and values won't change. That's a tribute to Edouard Michelin, who helped devise those plans and lived those values.