WASHINGTON—Anthony Jackson, a technical leader at the Goodyear plant in Fayetteville, N.C., was hard at work one day recently when he received a call to go to the manufacturing director's office.
"It makes you a little nervous when you get that," Jackson said.
Jackson wasn't in trouble, however. Instead, the manufacturing director asked him if he had ever heard of the "Tire Manufacturing Ambassadors" program sponsored by the U.S. Tire Manufacturers Association.
"I told him I had read an article about it in the company newsletter," Jackson said. "Then he asked me if I wanted to be a Tire Manufacturing Ambassador."
Jackson was one of 12 tire industry production line and middle management workers chosen from the member companies of the U.S. Tire Manufacturers Association to represent the industry in meetings in Washington June 26 with federal lawmakers and their staff members.
As with the inaugural program last year, the Tire Manufacturing Ambassadors served as advocates for issues important to the tire manufacturing industry.
According to the USTMA, each member company chose ambassadors based on their commitment to safety, their leadership abilities, their passion for the tire industry and service to their companies.
Larsen Cline, executive assistant to the plant manager at the Sumter, S.C., facility for Continental Tire the Americas L.L.C., was another of this year's ambassadors to Capitol Hill.
"In my two-and-a-half years at Conti, I work with all employees throughout the organization as well as with our partners throughout the community," Cline said.
Cline is a member of the Corporate Social Responsibility group at the Sumter plant, and as such is active in serving as a liaison between the plant and the community projects it supports.
Among those projects, she said, are an educational program with the local school district and a "Know Your Numbers" project to educate employees about good health, in collaboration with the local chapter of the American Heart Association.
Aside from her Corporate Social Responsibility activities, Cline also volunteers for projects involving the local hospital, the Sumter County Chamber of Commerce, the Sumter County Museum and the Sumter Junior Welfare League.
"I'm interested in the community in very personal ways, as well as through Continental," Cline said.
Like Cline, Jackson is deeply involved in both workplace and community events. As a technical leader at Fayetteville and a 30-year Goodyear veteran, he is responsible for quality control, in charge of some of the most important operations in the plant including product assurance, final finish and shipping. He oversees the work of more than 100 people.
"I have always worked in the customer satisfaction end of the business," he said. "Our tires help people get to work, to school, anywhere they want to go. Safety, quality, appearance—that's the core of what we do. I'm just a small cog in the wheel, but my job is to make sure the company standards are upheld."
Outside of work, Jackson and his wife Shelly are active in their church, the Freedom Biker Church in Fayetteville, and in church programs helping at-risk children.
Among the legislators the Tire Manufacturing Ambassadors met with, according to Jackson, were Rep. Richard Hudson (R-Tenn.), representing Fayetteville, and Rep. Jim Cooper (D-Tenn.), as well as senators, Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) and Bob Corker (R-Tenn.).
Tariffs on imported steel—a material crucial to domestic tire manufacturing—was the biggest topic of discussion during the Capitol Hill meetings, according to Jackson. But what really impressed him was the level of interest.
"The legislators were really interested in listening to us," he said. "I could tell they were really interested in what we had to say."
Cline agreed. "Everyone we met with was very interested to listen to our statements," she said. "They were very welcoming."
Both Jackson and Cline said they were honored to be selected for the Tire Manufacturing Ambassadors program.
"To have been chosen out of thousands of employees was a great honor, and I am grateful for the opportunity," she said.
Besides Jackson and Cline, the other Tire Manufacturing Ambassadors this year were:
- Frances Ellis-Lynch, quality assurance officer, Bridgestone Americas Inc., Wilson, N.C.;
- Luke Schroeder, engineering manager, Cooper Tire & Rubber Co., Findlay, Ohio.;
- Ashley Stewart, market research analyst, Giti Tire (U.S.A.) Ltd., Fort Mill, S.C.;
- Wes Boling, public affairs manager, Hankook Tire America Corp., Nashville, Tenn.;
- Binh Dang, inside sales manager, Kumho Tire U.S.A. Inc., Atlanta, Ga.;
- Jackie Branscomb, tire performance engineer, Michelin North America Inc., Greenville, S.C.;
- Sarah Sandidge, account manager, Pirelli Tire North America, Rome, Ga.;
- Nicholas Kreuter, industrial engineer, Sumitomo Rubber Industries, Buffalo, N.Y.;
- Christopher Major, group leader—Technical Mold Group, Toyo Tire Holdings of Americas Inc., White, Ga.; and
- Christian Yates, senior environmental specialist, Yokohama Tire Corp., Salem, Va.