It's unlikely that anyone expected everything to return to "normal" once the calendar turned to 2021.
Nothing magically erased what the industry and world went through last year. The shameful events that occurred in Washington on Jan. 6—where a mob of armed President Trump supporters attacked the U.S. Capitol Building, disrupting the counting of the electoral votes from the 2020 presidential election and leaving destruction in their wake—were a quick wakeup call that the New Year would start with much of the same difficulties and drama of 2020.
On the day of the siege, the National Association of Manufacturers even called on Vice President Mike Pence to "seriously consider" working with the Cabinet to invoke the 25th Amendment and remove Trump from office. NAM President Jay Timmons called the acts sedition and said the outgoing president "incited violence in an attempt to retain power." To put things in perspective, the NAM leader put this against a backdrop of millions of American manufacturing workers "helping our nation fight the deadly pandemic that has already taken hundreds of thousands of lives."
But while the drama was playing out in Washington for all the world to view, there have been indications that some sanity may be returning. In particular, the mergers and acquisitions market has been hot in the tire and rubber industry, from smaller deals to multibillion dollar ones.
On the smaller side, IRP Medical further boosted its position in the liquid silicone rubber molding market with its purchase of KDL Precision Molding Corp., which has been making its mark on the West Coast for the past three decades.
And on the other end of the spectrum, Bridgestone Americas found a buyer for its Firestone Building Products business, one of the leaders in the EPDM and TPO polymer roofing markets. The deal is slated to bring Bridgestone $3.4 billion from Switzerland's LafargeHolcim for a unit that posted estimated 2020 sales of $1.8 billion and EBITDA of $270 million.
On its face, it's one of those sales where everyone appears to get what they want or need. For Bridgestone, that's the ability to focus its resources on its tire business and rapidly growing mobility solutions unit. LafargeHolcim, meanwhile, gets to strengthen its largest market, the U.S., while expanding in Europe and Latin America to become the global leader in flat roofing.
And for the industry, it's a small indication that things will return to normal. Just have some patience, as it will take awhile.