By on February 21, 2013
YouTube Preview Image

Titan is the one with the money and the talent to produce tires. What does the crazy union have? It has the French government.

Okay, that’s direct, but it’s not the most direct thing Maurice Taylor said regarding the possibility of investing in a France-based tire manufacturer.

France’s finance minister, Arnaud Montebourg, recently received and then presumably leaked a letter from Taylor in which he repeatedly slams French industry and declares that he has no interest in hiring French workers.

“Titan is going to buy a Chinese tire company or an Indian one, pay less than one Euro per hour wage and ship all the tires France needs… You can keep the so-called workers.” In response, Montebourg compared Titan unfavorably to the Maginot Line, which would stand against any German tank assault.

No wait, that’s wrong, he compared Titan unfavorably to Michelin. Given that Titan’s been around for twenty years, that’s probably just as silly a comparison.

It’s hard to find someone to root for in this exchange, which seems to combine the worst red-meat stereotypes of insanely greedy corporate adventurists willing to have tires made by slave labor if necessary and complacent glass-tower mandarins cheerfully bleeding a country dry to protect their union voters until the very last possible minute. The enthusiast driver in me is on the side of the French, insofar as Michelin makes a number of outstanding performance tires and I have yet to see a Chinese tire worth entering in a demolition derby. It’s easy to forget that tires like the Pilot Sport PS2 are in part subsidized by the research and industrial capacity that come along with having a big chunk of the plain-vanilla transport industry. I also sleep better at night knowing that Chinese tires are fairly rare on the roads of the United States, since I have to drive on those roads.

We’ll continue to monitor the spat to see if anyone eats his words, but I wouldn’t look for that to happen. Titan will make its tires as cheaply as possible, and the French government won’t consider anything but token protectionist efforts. Now might be a good time to stock up on Pilot Cups, and don’t forget to store them away from sunlight and fresh air.

For your reference, here is the full text of the communication:

 

Dear Mr. Montebourg:

I have just returned to the United States from Australia where I have been for the past few weeks on business; therefore, my apologies for answering your letter dated 31 January 2013.

I appreciate your thinking that your Ministry is protecting industrial activities and jobs in France.  I and Titan have a 40-year history of buying closed factories and companies, losing millions of dollars and turning them around to create a good business, paying good wages. Goodyear tried for over four years to save part of the Amiens jobs that are some of the highest paid, but the French unions and French government did nothing but talk.

I have visited the factory a couple of times. The French workforce gets paid high wages but works only three hours. They get one hour for breaks and lunch, talk for three, and work for three. I told this to the French union workers to their faces. They told me that’s the French way!

The Chinese are shipping tires into France – really all over Europe – and yet you do nothing. In five years, Michelin won’t be able to produce tire in France. France will lose its industrial business because government is more government.

Sir, your letter states you want Titan to start a discussion. How stupid do you think we are? Titan is the one with money and talent to produce tires. What does the crazy union have? It has the French government. The French farmer wants cheap tire. He does not care if the tires are from China or India and governments are subsidizing them. Your government doesn’t care either. “We’re French!”

The US government is not much better than the French. Titan had to pay millions to Washington lawyers to sue the Chinese tire companies because of their subsidizing. Titan won. The government collects the duties. We don’t get the duties, the government does.

Titan is going to buy a Chinese tire company or an Indian one, pay less than one Euro per hour and ship all the tires France needs. You can keep the so-called workers. Titan has no interest in the Amien North factory.

Best regards,  Maurice M. Taylor, Jr. Chairman and CEO

BY ROB WILE

 

 

Get the latest TTAC e-Newsletter!

27 Comments on “Titan Tire CEO: French Workers Are Lazy. France: Not Even, We Aren’t...”


  • avatar
    cwallace

    I’ve never heard of a Titan tire. Do they make those brands that Discount Tire and NTB keep three of on hand, for the sole purpose of being able to advertise a low price?

  • avatar
    mnm4ever

    I wouldn’t think Chinese-produced tires are rare in the US, most people buying tires have no idea what they are buying and many will just shop price.

    • 0 avatar
      nikita

      You are right, there are way more out there than you may think. Tirerack lists country of origin on its spec sheets. Many tires from well known Korean and even Japanese and European brands are now made in China, India, Indonesia or Vietnam.

      • 0 avatar
        azmtbkr81

        American brands too, recently I decided not to buy a set Cooper tires after finding out that the particular tire I was interested in is made in China.

        Quality wise they were probably fine but I prefer not to prop up the US’s largest geopolitical adversary if I don’t have to.

    • 0 avatar
      Athos Nobile

      One of the Goodyear tyres in my car is Made in China. The other 3 were made here (when the factory was still open)

  • avatar
    twintornados

    Chinese tires are currently available at places like Pep Boys…

  • avatar
    ndlaw95

    Taylor, aka the Grizz, is prominently featured in Michael Lewis’s criminally-underrated “Losers” (about the group who ran for the 1996 Republican presidential nomination). He ran a vanity campaign for the nomination and is, needlesss to say, quite a character. For anyone who has read Losers, the leaked letter is not very surprising.

  • avatar
    chainyanker

    These aren’t performance street tires we’re talking about here. They make tires for off-road use meaning tractors, construction equipment, etc. My New Holland compact tractor has Titans on it and they seem to be holding up fine considering what I’ve put them through.

  • avatar
    schmitt trigger

    Titan Tire is a corporate predator.

    I’ve acquaintances that were closely involved in the Titan factory fiasco in Brownsville, TX.
    At the time, Titan was having substantial labor issues with its main agricultural facility somewhere in the cornbelt.

    To tame the union, they threatened to move the factory somewhere else. They chose Brownsville, TX as the new location. Brownsville, located along the southmost border with Mexico is one of the nation’s poorest areas.

    Needless to say, the Brownsville and Texas officials were delighted to have a large industrial facility to help mitigate the chronic unemployement. The literally removed their pants and underwear, and made significant concessions and infrastructure improvements, tax breaks, etc.

    Titan did build a 2 million square facility there, that operated perhaps 2 years or less before being closed down. Apparently the opening of this plant made the unions up north to calm down.

    Anyways, a huge bulding sits empty slowly rotting away in the subtropical climate, while the city and county remain saddled with the debt from the Titan deal, a debt that they can ill afford.

    • 0 avatar
      vww12

      «Brownsville and Texas officials [...] literally removed their pants and underwear, and made significant concessions and infrastructure improvements, tax breaks, etc.»

      Heh!

      It’s the fault of these officials… suckers! Their greed drove them to waste taxpayer money on discriminatory subsidies they should never offer anyone for any reason. It’s much more reasonable and less discriminatory to just keep a flat tax rate available to anyone, and not just to well-connected, French-dissing CEOs.

      I, for one, will for the first time consider Titan tires next time our Touareg requires new shoes.

  • avatar
    Jellodyne

    Titan may have the money, but it sounds like the crazy union is the one with the “talent” to produce tires, if they want to make them in France.

  • avatar
    Mikein08

    What’s this? French workers lazy and incompetent? Sacre Bleu!!
    One could ask the Germans about this, who had no trouble over-running
    France militarily 3 times in a span of 70 years, and who are currently having no trouble overrunning France economically. Not to mention
    that France sells no cars in USA, but the Germans sell quite a few …

  • avatar

    Perhaps Michelin is not the best example of French productivity. 42% of their factories are outside of Europe.

    • 0 avatar
      George B

      Michelin has many factories in the Unites States.

      http://careers.michelin-us.com/why/locations/

      I drive past a large Michelin plant in Ardmore, OK several times a year.

  • avatar
    DeadWeight

    I feel compelled to give a shout out to Hankook, for making not only some outstanding tires in all categories, but for making them at a level of quality that in many cases meets or exceeds anything from Europe, Japan or the U.S. at a significantly lower price.

    I also would like to acknowledge that B.F. Goodrich, which makes its tires in the good ‘ole U.S.A., also makes some outstanding tires that are at least the equal of far pricier competitors, at significantly lower prices.

    I’ve yet to see a Michelin tire that could truly be deemed worthy of its price relative to often far less expensive manufacturers’ wares.

    Oh, and I wouldn’t buy any Nankang or similar tire that’s both designed/engineered AND fabricated in China no matter how low the price, because so much is riding on my tires.

  • avatar
    benders

    Without purchasing a European factory, I don’t see Titan competing in France anytime soon. They can’t build tires with good enough uniformity to prevent the ‘hopping’ that happens with high-speed tractors (50 km/h) and made even worse by all the implements mounted only on 3-point hitch in Europe (as opposed to pulled on the drawbar in US).

  • avatar
    Yeah_right

    The Titan owner sounds like a perfect caricature of what the NYTimes think every business owner is like. No love from this corner of the internet.

    But a stiff middle finger to everyone in France (and one for Spain and Italy while I’m at it) who has any hand in manufacturing policy or unions. Attempting to squeeze a work week out of them that would be considered a vacation week in Asia is harder than getting them to speak German. And just try to fire someone. Lord. No matter how incompetent, you’re looking at a multi-year project that still has the dipwad getting paid what he was earning when he (wasn’t) working.

    I work at a big company. Other than a few people in sales, we’ve given up in France.


Back to TopLeave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Subscribe without commenting

Recent Comments

New Car Research

Get a Free Dealer Quote

Staff

  • Authors

  • Brendan McAleer, Canada
  • Marcelo De Vasconcellos, Brazil
  • Matthias Gasnier, Australia
  • Tycho de Feyter, China
  • W. Christian 'Mental' Ward, Abu Dhabi
  • Mark Stevenson, Canada
  • Faisal Ali Khan, India