On May 30, 1977, I walked into the offices of Rubber & Plastics News for the first time, at One Cascade Plaza in downtown Akron. Ernie Zielasko, the editor and publisher, interviewed me for a position as assistant editor.
I don't remember what Ernie asked me, or what my answers were. I do remember that Ernie called me June 1, offering me the job. I graduated from Ohio University June 11 and started in the Akron office June 13.
Thus was my destiny for the next 43 years, including a move in 1980 to become Washington reporter. The Crain office has moved several times during those years, and some of the faces have changed, but the mission remains the same: to provide readers in the tire industry with the most accurate information as quickly and readably as possible.
I started so early, Tire Business didn't even exist (it debuted in 1983). As the Methuselah of the Crain Global Polymer Group, I can remember when tire makers were fighting for their lives against that outrage perpetrated by the anti-business firebrands in Washington, Uniform Tire Quality Grading.
Now, UTQG is a forgotten set of numbers on every tire sidewall. The tire industry advocated for the next step in government tire ratings—tire fuel efficiency labeling—and has waited 10 years for its completion.
When I started, half the tires on the road were still bias. Now, the industry is blowing past run-flat and airless tires to 3D modeling. It reminds me—that WAS a Royal manual that I typed my first stories on. I wonder what museum (or landfill) it landed in.
It was an eventful 43 years. I have seen the administrations of seven presidents, and I have seen members of Congress rip witnesses and each other to shreds in committee meetings.
The most memorable was an enraged Sen. John McCain excoriating Masatoshi Ono, the then-president of Bridgestone/Firestone (now Bridgestone Americas), over the Ford Explorer rollover scandal. Ono answered as best he could in a cowed, heavily accented voice, looking like a condemned man—which in a sense he was. It is hard to imagine a more Kafkaesque experience than being called before a hostile government panel and peppered with questions in a language you barely understand.
I've interviewed people from every corner of the rubber industry, from tire changers to research chemists. My job has taken me to most of the states in the Union, and to Canada, Italy, Switzerland, Spain, Finland and Brazil.
What I have discovered, in every case, are people passionately dedicated to what they do. In the case of government regulation, for the most part, what they have consistently wanted is a chance to explain how their industry works. The tension between environmental necessities, on one hand, and the realities of doing business, on the other, has been the constant narrative of my time in Washington.
Above all, I have made lasting friends within the industry and among my colleagues at Crain. These are friends who have helped me through some rough times, and whom I will cherish for the rest of my life. All of them have a standing invitation to look me up whenever they're in Washington. I'll be around.
Moore retired April 1 from his position as senior Washington reporter for both Rubber & Plastics News and its sister publication, Tire Business.