French tire company Michelin & Cie bid adieu to former CEO and grandson of its founder François Michelin, who passed away Wednesday at the age of 88.
Born in Clermont-Ferrand, a city in France’s Auvergne region in 1926 to Etienne Michelin and the former Madeleine Callies, François took over as co-manager of his family’s company in 1955.; At the time it ranked only as the number 10 tiremaker in the world, although it was beginning to gain some prominence with its Michelin “X” radial tire, found to be a “vast” improvement over the bias-ply tires that were commonly used at the time thanks to its ability to “come in contact with the road better and reduce heat build-up for more efficiency and longer life.” In fact, its motto at the time was “Twice the distance, twice the safety, twice the comfort.”build-up for more efficiency and longer life.” In fact, its motto at the time was “Twice the distance, twice the safety, twice the comfort.”
Under his leadership from 1955-2002, the 126-year old company founded as a small industrial firm by his grandfather Edouard, Michelin Tires began to expand rapidly, opening 25 factories outside of France from 1960-1979, and eventually rose to the 2nd largest manufacturer of tire after introducing its radials to the US during the late ‘70’s. Although his own son Edouard joined him in managing the company in 1999, later taking over completely upon his retirement, the younger Michelin did not remain in control long, dying at the age of 42 in a boating accident just 4 years later.
“He was one of the greatest French industrialists in the postwar years,” President Francois Hollande said in a statement. “He understood the importance of innovation and of long-term industrial development. By developing the radial tire, he transformed a family and regional company into one of the biggest French groups and one of its best-known.”
Michelin also made a crucial decision to “withdrawn from the automotive business in 1976 and sell Citroen to Peugeot SA, which led to the creation of merger led to the creation of PSA Peugeot Citroen, now the second-largest car manufacturer in Europe Volkswagen AG. He also bought Uniroyal Goodrich Tire Co. in 1990 to “strengthen his company’s position” in the United States. Michelin & Cie. is also publishes hotel and restaurant guides.
Note: François Michelin was also a mentor to Carlos Ghosn, now CEO of both Renault SA and Nissan Motor Co. Ghosn was hired by Michelin in 1978 and remained with the company for 18 years..