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André Michelin in 1920
André Jules Michelin
16 January 1853
|Died||4 April 1931 (aged 78)|
|Alma mater||École Centrale Paris|
|Known for||Founder of Michelin|
André Jules Michelin (16 January 1853 – 4 April 1931) was a French industrialist who, with his brother Édouard (1859–1940), founded the Michelin Tyre Company (Compagnie Générale des Établissements Michelin) in 1888 in the French city of Clermont-Ferrand.
In 1886, 33-year-old Andre Michelin abandoned his career as a successful Parisian engineer to take over his grandfather's failing agricultural goods and farm equipment business. Established in 1832,"Michelin et Cie" suffered from neglect and was on the verge of insolvency following the founder's death. Michelin's grandfather had started the company that sold farm equipment and an odd assortment of vulcanized rubber products, such as belts, valves and pipes. As soon as Andre took the helm of the company, he recruited his younger brother Edouard to join him at the company. Edouard was named the company's managing director. While duly committed to the success of the business, neither brother had any prior experience selling goods or had the slightest idea where to even begin. In 1889, a cyclist familiar with the Michelin Company approached Edouard with his flat tyre seeking assistance. Getting a flat tyre frequently meant cyclists were left stranded for hours. In the late 1880s, cycling was becoming a popular form of transportation and hobby due in large part to John Dunlop's 1888 patent for the inflatable bicycle tyre. Before Dunlop's invention, bicycle tyres were made out of solid rubber. The solid rubber tyres tended to provide little traction and made for a difficult and uncomfortable ride. After the hapless cyclist approached the Michelin Company for assistance, Edouard took great interests in the new pneumatic tyres. The Michelins recognized that there would be a great demand for pneumatic tyres if only there was a way to more quickly make repairs. They reasoned that first the wheel must become detachable. Edouard conducted a series of experiments and developed a number of prototypes. In 1891, he was granted a patent for a detachable tire.
- Ward's Auto World. May 2002, Vol. 38 Issue 5, p21. 1/6p.
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André Michelin at the Automotive Hall of Fame official website.