ARLINGTON, Va.—Goodyear remains a supplier to the nation's military despite the recent dustup with President Trump, who urged consumers to boycott the brand.
A spokesman for the U.S. Department of Defense confirms the company continues to supply tires.
"DoD has not received direction to discontinue the use of Goodyear tires," DoD spokesman Chuck Prichard said in an Aug. 26 email to Rubber & Plastics News. "Government terminations are governed by DoD accounting regulations. No terminations are being discussed."
Goodyear, based in Akron, sells tens of thousands of tires to the U.S. Armed Forces each year, one of more than a dozen tire companies with government work, the DoD said.
"Goodyear supplies approximately 90,000 aircraft and ground vehicle tires a year in support of the DoD Global Tire Program for an average yearly contract amount of $48 million," Prichard said.
"This volume is subject to change due to operational tempo of the DOD and its Foreign Military Sales partners. This data is based on an average over the past five years.
"DLA has 16 tire supply contractors, including Goodyear, that consist of a network of manufacturers and dealers," he said.
The federal government contracts with Science Applications International Corp. to provide tires to the military from a variety of manufacturers and dealers. SAIC uses long-term contracts to order tires on behalf of the military and handles the supply chain.
This includes inventory management, storage and warehouse operations, distribution and transportation, packaging, management of obsolete products, data management and customer support.
SAIC also oversees scrap tire and retread requirements, the federal Defense Logistics Agency said.
"Note that while DLA provides a majority of DoD tire requirements, some units and OEMs purchase from local industry or directly through a tire manufacturer," Prichard said. "There are no directives impacting DLA's ordering of Goodyear products."
Goodyear's military and municipal contracts that supply tires to military, government and first response—police, ambulance and fire—vehicles are critical for Goodyear. These sales are such an important part of the company's business that it has a website dedicated to that segment of the market.
It's just one part of the operations that could suffer if the boycott called for by President Trump takes hold.
The president lashed out at Goodyear on Twitter Aug. 19 after seeing a slide that was shown during a presentation at the company's Topeka, Kan., plant. The slide specifically forbade the wearing of Trump's "Make America Great Again" slogan on apparel. The rule was part of a larger push that prohibited all political messaging at work. Political messaging, the slide said, also included "Blue Lives Matter" attire.
In the days following the dustup, a message from Richard Kramer, Goodyear's chairman, CEO and president, was the first screen that people saw when logging on to Goodyear's military supply website. It was addressed to the company's "valued government customers."
"By now, you are aware of a visual from our Topeka factory that has been circulating in the media, and I want to personally clear the record on what you are seeing and hearing. The slide in question was created by a plant employee to try to explain what is acceptable to wear in the workplace. The slide was not approved or distributed by Goodyear Corporate or anyone outside of that facility.
"I deeply regret the impression it has created." Kramer said.
Because the slide at the Topeka plant also called "Blue Lives Matter" attire unacceptable work attire, Kramer's statement went on to clarify Goodyear's support of law enforcement. He also said that employees are welcome to show support for police.
"Goodyear strongly supports our law enforcement partners and deeply appreciates all they do to put their lives on the line each and every day for our communities," he said. "We have proudly supplied tires to police and fire personnel for more than 100 years, and that relationship is foundational to our company.
"We have clarified our policy to make it clear associates can express support for law enforcement through apparel at Goodyear facilities."
In the wake of the controversy, Titan International Inc., which produces Goodyear-brand farm tires, distanced itself from Goodyear as a company, saying that Titan supports its workers' rights to wear whatever they choose to work. The tire maker also praised Trump for his support of American workers.
Others, however, stood behind the tire maker and blasted the president's call for a boycott of an American company. The United Steelworkers union, other unionized workers and Ohio law makers were among them.
Akron-area residents also showed great support for the company, which one city official noted has been integral in helping to build the local economy by attracting rubber industry businesses.
Another person who spoke out in support Goodyear is Akron native LeBron James.
"I know my people of Akron. I know what Goodyear means to our city," James said while talking with members of the press recently. "One thing about us is we don't bend, we don't fold, we don't break for nobody. So I'm not worried about that. Not only has Goodyear been great for my city, for the history of my city, but for the country. ... It's an unbelievable brand, unbelievable history. So we stand strong and, we always unite, especially in my city."
Lakers' LeBron James on President Trump's call for Goodyear boycott: "I know my people of Akron and what Goodyear means to our city. One thing about us, we don't bend, fold or break for nobody. Shout out and salute to all the workers." pic.twitter.com/7h9MJBYoYF— Ben Golliver (@BenGolliver) August 21, 2020
The LeBron James Family Foundation, established by the NBA superstar to help build stronger communities in the city, often partners with Goodyear for community programs and initiatives. Further, Goodyear has been a key partner for the I Promise school, which LeBron established in Akron to help support Akron students, by supporting their families and ensuring they have a path to college.
In a recent tweet, which James himself retweeted, the LeBron James Family Foundation emphasized the ways in which Goodyear has partnered with the school to provide learning opportunities for students, and included a picture of James wearing a Goodyear basketball jersey.
So PROUD to call them FAMILY!!! 💛💙🙏🏾👑 https://t.co/dtA0Yt5TI5— LeBron James (@KingJames) August 21, 2020