United States Rubber Company

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United States Rubber Company (Uniroya)
Type tire brand of Michelin North America
Industry Manufacturing
Founded 1892
Defunct 1990
Headquarters

Greenville, South Carolina

Naugatuck, Connecticut, USA
Products Motor vehicle tires
Parent Michelin
Website Uniroyal Tires


The United States Rubber Company was founded in Naugatuck, Connecticut in 1892. It was one of the original 12 stocks in the Dow Jones Industrial Average,[1] and became Uniroyal Inc. in 1961. In 1990, Uniroyal was acquired by France-based tire maker Michelin.

One of Uniroyal's best known products is the Tiger Paw tire introduced in the 1960s and included as original equipment for that decade's muscle cars such as the Pontiac GTO, which itself was promoted as The Tiger during its early years. Today, Uniroyal still uses the Tiger Paw brand name in its tire line.

Origins[edit]

Goodyear Metallic Rubber Shoe Company & Downtown Naugatuck (c. 1890)

By 1892, there were many rubber manufacturing companies in Naugatuck, Connecticut, as well as elsewhere in Connecticut. Nine companies consolidated their operations in Naugatuck to become the United States Rubber Company. It should be noted that one of the nine, Goodyear's India Rubber Glove Mfg. Co. (named Litchfield Rubber Co. until 1847) – which manufactured rubber gloves for telegraph linemen – was the only company in which Charles Goodyear, inventor of the rubber vulcanization process, is known to have owned stock.

From 1892 to 1913, the rubber footwear divisions of U.S. Rubber manufactured their products under 30 different brand names, including the Wales-Goodyear Shoe Co. The company consolidated these footwear brands under one name, Keds, in 1916, and were mass-marketed as the first flexible rubber-sole with canvas-top "sneakers" in 1917.

On May 26, 1896 Charles Dow created the Dow Industrial average of twelve industrial manufacturing stocks, which included among them U.S. Rubber Company. When the average expanded to a list of 20 stocks in 1916, U.S. Rubber remained, however the listing expanded to 30 stocks in 1928 and U.S. Rubber was dropped.[2]

U.S. Rubber Headquarters constructed at 1790 Broadway in 1912

In an effort to increase its share of the automobile tire market in 1931, U.S. Rubber Company bought a substantial portion of the Gillette Safety Tire Company. The company was founded in 1916 by Raymond B. Gillette and its primary manufacturing plant was located in Eau Claire, Wisconsin. The Gillette plant held large contracts with the General Motors Corporation and with the addition of U.S. Rubber products, became one of the world's largest supplier of original equipment tires. U.S. Rubber produced tires under the Gillete, Ward, Atlas, U.S. Rubber and U.S. Royal brands.[3]

In 1940, U.S. Rubber purchased the remainder of the Gillette Safety Tire Company, and began to expand and modernize the Eau Claire factory, greatly increasing production. During World War II, U.S. Rubber factories were devoted to production of war goods, and produced military truck and airplane tires, as well as the canvas-top, rubber-soled Jungle boot for soldiers and marines serving in tropical and jungle environments.[3] U.S. Rubber ranked 37th among United States corporations in the value of wartime production contracts.[4]

In 1942, the United States government restricted the sale of scarce rubber products for civilian use and production at the plant dwindled. The company sold the Eau Claire plant to the government, which then converted it for the manufacture of small caliber ammunition and renamed it the Eau Claire Ordnance plant.[3]

By December 31, 1943, the need for tires outweighed the need for ammunition. U.S. Rubber repurchased the plant from the government for over US$1 million, and converted it back to synthetic rubber tire production. The company began an expansion and modernization program at the plant that lasted through 1951. When it ended, the Eau Claire plant was the fifth largest tire facility in the United States. The company again expanded the plant in 1965 to produce tires for construction machinery and for many years it was the largest private employer in Eau Claire and the second largest in neighbouring Chippewa Falls before it was closed in 1991.[3][5]

In late 1943, U.S. Rubber engineer Dr. Louis Marick developed a propeller de-icing system in which a rubber boot was fitted onto the leading edge of a propeller. The boot contained wires that conducted electricity to heat the edge and break-up ice.[6]

Englebert Company[edit]

In 1958, Uniroyal entered into a partnership with the Englebert tire company of Liège, Belgium which became known as Uniroyal Englebert Deutschland AG. In 1963, the name was shortened to Uniroyal-Englebert and in 1966 it became Uniroyal along with all company divisions. Uniroyal sold this division with its four factories in Belgium, Germany, France and Scotland to Continental AG in 1979. Continental continues to market tires under the Uniroyal label in Belgium, Czech Republic, Germany, Poland and the United Kingdom.[7][8]

Dominion Rubber[edit]

Uniroyal plant in Saint-Jérôme, Quebec, built in 1911–1930

Uniroyal operations in Canada were carried out under the name Dominion Rubber Company for a number of decades.

Dominion started operations as Brown, Hibbard and Bourne, established in 1854. In 1866, the company registered as the Canadian Rubber Company of Montreal Limited and became prosperous manufacturing waterproof cloth, rubber footwear and machinery belts. It began to produce auto tires in 1906 in its Montreal factory and through a series of mergers with other companies in Ontario and Quebec became the Canadian Consolidated Rubber Company Limited.

After another series of mergers, the company became the Dominion Rubber Company Limited in 1926. It produced footwear under a variety of brand names, coated upholstery fabrics, mechanical parts, industrial chemicals and vehicle tires.[9] In 1966, after four decades as Dominion, the company was renamed Uniroyal Ltd., along with all other company holdings, and in 1981, it was sold to Waterville Ltd.

The Saint-Jérôme facility during demolition in 1994

S.A. Rubber[edit]

In 1939, Mark Lodge and Harold Hill establish S. A. Rubber Mills Pty. Ltd. in Edwardstown, South Australia. The company grew until 1963 when U.S. Rubber purchased 25% of the business. By 1980, Uniroyal owned sixty percent of what was now Uniroyal Brazil which it sold to Bridgestone. The subsidiary which operated Australian plants under the name Uniroyal Tyre Company became Bridgestone Australia Ltd. and was traded on the Australian stock exchange as a majority-owned subsidiary of Japan's tire company.[10] On 20 March 2007 stockholders of Bridgestone Australia Ltd. voted to make the company a wholly owned subsidiary of Bridgestone Corporation of Japan.[11](TYO: 5108)

Uniroyal[edit]

Uniroyal Mexican Truck Tire

In 1961, the company became Uniroyal Inc.[2] The Uniroyal name was applied to all its operating components and products by 1967 creating a unified brand.[3]

As Uniroyal, the company became defendant in a landmark gender discrimination case, Chrapliwy v. Uniroyal, under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The case continued for several years until the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit issued a ruling in 1982.

Uniroyal Goodrich Tire[edit]

In 1985, Uniroyal was taken private by its management and the New York investment firm of Clayton & Dubilier to prevent a hostile takeover by financier Carl C. Icahn. At the time, Uniroyal was the fifth-largest tire company in the country. [12] To help pay the nearly $1 billion in debt incurred in the leveraged buyout, the company sold its Uniroyal's Chemical subsidiary to Avery Inc. – a producer of agricultural chemicals, industrial chemical additives and specialized rubber and plastic products – for $760 million in May 1986.[13]

The remaining tire operation was merged with that of B.F. Goodrich Company (NYSEGR), a S&P 500-listed tire and rubber fabricator that made high-performance replacement tires.[3] The joint venture partnership became the Uniroyal Goodrich Tire Company and B.F. Goodrich Company held a 50% stake in the new tire company.[14]

The new Uniroyal Goodrich Tire Company established its headquarters at the former B. F. Goodrich corporate headquarters, within its 27-building downtown complex in Akron, Ohio which contained Goodrich's original factory. In the fall of 1987, B.F. Goodrich Company closed several manufacturing operations at the site, and most of the complex remained vacant until February 1988, when B.F. Goodrich announced plans to sell the vacant portions of the complex to the Covington Capital Corporation, a New York developer.[15]

In 1987, its first full year of operation, the new Uniroyal Goodrich Tire Company generated almost US$2 billion in sales revenue, with profit of about US$35 million. However, the merger soon proved to be difficult. In June 1988, B.F. Goodrich sold its 50% stake to a group of investors led by Clayton & Dubilier, Inc. for US$225 million.[14][16] At the same time, B.F. Goodrich also received a warrant to purchase indirectly up to 7% of the equity in Uniroyal Goodrich Tire Company.[17]

Also in June 1988 as part of the sale deal, the new privately held tire company acquired publicly held debt of $415 million.[18] The Uniroyal Goodrich Tire Company offered the debt securities in two parts through underwriters led by Drexel Burnham Lambert Inc. The two instruments were a US$250 million issue of 14 ⅛% notes due in 1998, and a US$165 million issue of 14 ½% subordinated debentures due in 2000.[19]

For the year 1988, Uniroyal Goodrich Tire posted sales revenue of US$2.2 billion, while profit declined to about a third of the prior year, less than US$12 million, which included an extraordinary credit of nearly US$2 million from the purchase of Canadian annuity pension obligations, and also a charge of over US$16 million from the June 1988 recapitalization resulting from the selloff by B.F. Goodrich.[20]

Also in 1988, Michelin Group, a subsidiary of the French tire company Michelin et Cie (EuronextML) proposed to acquire the Uniroyal Goodrich Tire Company, and began acquiring a stake.[3]

In 1989, Uniroyal Goodrich Tire Company posted sales revenue that was up to almost US$2.3 billion, but profit was down by 90% to just over US$1 million, but included over US$9 million extraordinary credit that year for the ongoing Canadian annuity pension obligation purchase. 1989 year-end net income results were also hurt by increased interest expense of nearly US$31 million on the June 1988 debt recapitalization, and a US$29 million charge for deferred employee compensation related to the proposed purchase of the company by Michelin Group.[20]

Michelin Group[edit]

By May 1990, Michelin Group completed its purchase of Uniroyal Goodrich Tire Company from Clayton & Dubilier of New York. The deal was valued at about US$1.5 billion.[21] B.F. Goodrich surrendered its 7% warrant to Michelin Group for US$32.5 million.[17]

With the sale, B.F. Goodrich then exited the tire business and became the Goodrich Corporation to focus on building its chemicals and aerospace businesses through reinvestment and acquisitions.[16] Michelin Group continued to operate the Uniroyal Goodrich Tire Company as its tire manufacturing unit in the United States and Canada.

In January 1991, Michelin Group closed the historic Eau Claire, Wisconsin plant, eliminating 1,350 positions. Later in 1991 it closed the tire-cord manufacturing plant in Lindsay, Ontario with 74 workers on August 30, 1991 due to high cost and two tire factories with 1,000 jobs in Kitchener, Ontario citing overcapacity.[22]

Also in 1991, the Uniroyal tiger returned to national television after a 10-year hiatus, featured in a new 30-second spot created by Wyse Advertising of Cleveland, Ohio. The animated Uniroyal tiger had been a television advertising icon for the company through the 1970s. The new commercial appeared on ESPN and CNN sports-related programming, and also was run by Uniroyal dealers in local markets.[23]

By 1993, Michelin North America employed 28,000 people at 18 plants, in South Carolina, Alabama, Oklahoma, Indiana, Nova Scotia and Ontario. In mid-1993 Michelin North America cut 2,500 of those jobs, which represented about 9% of its work force in the United States and Canada, because of softening demand for tires.[24] As of 2010, the Uniroyal Goodrich Tire unit continued to operate with about 1,000 workers at its tire plant in Woodburn, Indiana and another plant in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. Citing overcapacity in the North American tire market, the plant in Opelika, Alabama closed in 2009.

Archival material[edit]

The collection Uniroyal, Inc Records 1917-1990, Eau Claire MSS CB, is housed in the Special Collections and Archives Department at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire. The bulk of the records consist of labor contract negotiation and grievance case files, minutes, memoranda, correspondence, reports, photographs, blueprints, and films. The collection documents collective bargaining and labor relations with Local 19 of the United Rubber Workers of America, tire production, reconversion of the plant from ordnance to synthetic rubber production, and modernization after World War II. Additional newsletters, notices, membership lists, by-laws, correspondence, and photographs from 1948 to 1990 document the fundraising, social, and charitable activities of the Royaleers Club, an organization for female salaried employees. Certain basic documentation of the Eau Claire plant's operation is missing; there are no annual reports, personnel files, advertising, or sales department records in the collection. The collection is 33.2 cubic feet (0.94 m3), consisting of 80 archives boxes and 3 flat boxes, 7 reels of film (8mm), and photographs.

The Uniroyal Collection, circa 1930-1992, UHC 255, is housed in the Special Collections and Archives Department at the University of Wisconsin- Eau Claire. This collection consists largely of articles from local newspapers regarding the closing of the plant in 1991. Other materials include photographs of employees and the plant, fragments of employee records and wage information, and a small collection of correspondence, photographs, and other writings by Sanford Kruger, Factory Manager in the late 1960s and 1970s. The collection is 1.0 linear foot (1 record carton).

The collection Records, 1933–1991, Eau Claire MSS AA, created by the Uniroyal union of United Rubber, Cork, Linoleum, and Plastic Workers of America, Local 19, is housed in the Special Collections and Archives Department at the University of Wisconsin- Eau Claire. The records consist of arbitration case files, minutes of executive board meetings, general meetings, and conferences. Also included are the union’s 1977 constitution and by-laws, a detailed history of the union from 1917–1938, and URCLPWA reports on the rubber industry in 1948 and 1949. The records document the formation and development of the union, the history of collective bargaining and the settlement of grievances at the Eau Claire plant, and labor relations from 1942 to 1943 when the plant was operated as an ordnance factory by U.S. Rubber on behalf of the government. The collection is 10.8 cubic feet (0.31 m3) (27 archives boxes).

References[edit]

  1. ^ "The Dow 1896-1909: What happened to the original 12 companies in the DJIA?". Dow Jones Indexes. Retrieved 2012-03-13. 
  2. ^ a b Jeremy J. Siegel (1 March 1998). Stocks for the Long Run, Second Edition. McGraw-Hill. ISBN 0-07-058043-X. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g Cindy Knight (1995). "Uniroyal, Inc. Records, 1917-1990". University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire. Retrieved 2012-03-14. 
  4. ^ Peck, Merton J. & Scherer, Frederic M. The Weapons Acquisition Process: An Economic Analysis (1962) Harvard Business School p.619
  5. ^ Kathy Cobb (1 January 1991). "Eau Claire responds to Uniroyal closing". Fedgazette (Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis). Retrieved 2012-03-14. 
  6. ^ "De-Icer for Airplane Propeller is Made of Electric Rubber". Popular Mechanics (Google Books). December 1943. p. 12. Retrieved 2012-03-14. 
  7. ^ "Uniroyal History". Continental AG. Retrieved 2012-03-13. 
  8. ^ "Continental AG Company History". Funding Universe. Retrieved 2012-03-14. 
  9. ^ "Dominion Rubber Company". Canadian Register of Commerce and Industry. University of Western Ontario. 1959. 
  10. ^ "History of Bridgestone Australia". Bridgestone. 2007. Retrieved 2012-03-14. 
  11. ^ Cameron England (20 March 2007). "Bridgestone to be privatised". The Advertiser (Adelaide: adelaidenow.com.au). Retrieved 2012-03-14. 
  12. ^ "Uniroyal Plans Buy-Out; Icahn to Drop Offer". Los Angeles Times (LATimes.com). Associated Press. 07 May 1985. Retrieved 2012-03-14. 
  13. ^ "Uniroyal to Sell Subsidiary for $760 Million". Los Angeles Times (LATimes.com). Associated Press. 15 May 1986. Retrieved 2012-03-14. 
  14. ^ a b "Uniroyal Goodrich Tire Co reports earnings for Qtr to Sept 30". The New York Times (NYTimes.com). 14 October 1988. Retrieved 2012-03-14. 
  15. ^ "COMPANY NEWS; Goodrich to Sell Complex in Akron". The New York Times (NYTimes.com). AP. 18 February 1988. Retrieved 2012-03-14. 
  16. ^ a b "Company News; Goodrich Outlook". The New York Times (NYTimes.com). Reuters. 24 June 1988. Retrieved 2012-03-14. 
  17. ^ a b "COMPANY NEWS; Goodrich Gains In Uniroyal Sale". The New York Times (NYTimes.com). Reuters. 3 May 1990. Retrieved 2012-03-14. 
  18. ^ "Uniroyal Goodrich Tire Co reports earnings for Qtr to March 31". The New York Times (NYTimes.com). 25 April 1989. Retrieved 2012-03-14. 
  19. ^ "FINANCE/NEW ISSUES; Uniroyal Goodrich Sets 2-Part offer". The New York Times (NYTimes.com). 17 June 1988. Retrieved 2012-03-14. 
  20. ^ a b "Uniroyal Goodrich Tire reports earnings for Qtr to Dec 31". The New York Times (NYTimes.com). 23 February 1990. Retrieved 2012-03-14. 
  21. ^ Nancy Rivera Brooks (23 September 1989). "Michelin Group to Buy Uniroyal Goodrich in a Deal Worth $1.5 Billion". Los Angeles Times (LATimes.com). Retrieved 2012-03-14. 
  22. ^ "COMPANY NEWS; Uniroyal-Goodrich". The New York Times (NYTimes.com). Reuters. 6 June 1991. Retrieved 2012-03-14. 
  23. ^ Stuart Elliott (21 June 1991). "ADDENDA; New Campaigns". The New York Times (NYTimes.com). Retrieved 2012-03-14. 
  24. ^ "COMPANY NEWS; Michelin to cut workforce in U.S. and Canada by 9%". The New York Times (NYTimes.com). 24 June 1993. Retrieved 2012-03-14. 

External links[edit]