Goodyear marks 40-year anniversary at Union City plant
Posted: Friday, October 31, 2008 9:48 pm
It was 2:30 p.m. on Oct. 31, 1968. The occasion: The official time for the first tire cured at the Union City Goodyear plant.
All of the people working in the Union City plant on that date knew it would be an important moment. Many were perhaps just too busy to fully appreciate it.
“With our plant’s start-up, there were a lot of things going on at that time,” Union City resident Ken Davis recalled.
Local officials and media were invited to join in the event at the plant’s first curing press, now designated as press location A18, to be a part of the occasion. The NRM bag-in-well press opened at that time, and lots of pictures were taken of the press and the four-ply Marathon tires.
“It was obvious that everyone really wanted to get this done before the first of November,” Davis said.
The announcement of the plant’s coming to Union City was made on Nov. 1 a year earlier and plant construction had begun April 1.
Davis, who had just returned from two months’ training at the company’s plant in Freeport, Ill., noticed that “everyone had been working really hard at getting a boiler running and the press in operation.”
It’s no secret that the first two tires had actually been cured the previous evening — to make sure that the media program the next day would be a success.
“At about 10 or 11 p.m. the night before — on Oct. 30 — Jim Sankey, who was the first plant manager; Hoot Gibson, who was division manager for the tireroom, curing and final finish; and Bill Coffman, shift foreman in maintenance; and I were in the plant to make sure that everything would work right the next day,” Davis said. “We then shut down the press that night and started it back up and cured a few tires on it the next day prior to the official 2:30 p.m. time.”
Joining in the ceremony were team members Don Linson and Tom Murray, who would later become a supervisor in the curing department. Linson held clock card No. 0001 — the first employee locally hired at Goodyear-Union City.
“At that time and for a while later, we placed the cured tires on pallets to be transported to final finish since we did not have the conveyors installed and running,” said Davis, who was department foreman in curing and final finish. “For a month or longer, we had to bring in from other plants all of the components to build tires since we did not have our Banburys and stock prep equipment running yet. The only equipment running on Oct. 31 was one tire machine and the A18 press.
“Also, for the first month to six weeks, we used the labor that we trained in Freeport to cure tires, inspect them and get them shipped. These associates were also training our new hires as they were beginning their work at the plant.”
More than 450 million tires have been produced at the Union City plant since the production ceremony which took place 40 years ago today.
“Oct. 31, 1968, was a special day in the history of our plant,” plant manager Todd Turner said. “All of the people working in our plant at that time worked very hard in building a good foundation for the future success of our plant.
“The people who were involved in the curing of our first tire faced numerous challenges, and they were determined to overcome those challenges. We continue to face many challenges in our industry today. I have always found Goodyear people to be resilient and determined to face challenges head-on. That’s why our company has been successful,” he said.