Maurice Taylor, CEO of Titan International Inc. (NYSE:TWI), a U.S. tire manufacturer, wrote this letter to French Industry Minister Arnaud Montebourg stating that he had no interest in rescuing a tire plant that Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. had closed in Amiens, France.
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 tires. 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 Amiens North factory.
Maurice M. Taylor, Jr.
Chairman and CEO
The letter is rather impolitic, but is refreshingly plain-spoken, almost Trumanesque. Monsieur Montebourg has taken offense at Mr. Taylor’s attitude.
I understand that the union in question is communist sponsored. I thought that the only communists left in the world outside of North Korea were on American college campuses.