• 20 Feb 2013 at 2:00 PM

U.S. CEO Has Some Words for French Minister

It’s not exactly Hemingway, or even Dan Loeb, but Maurice Taylor, CEO of tire manufacturer Titan, may have achieved a diplomatic incident with his very undiplomatic letter to France’s industry minister.

In his best ugly American, Taylor pulls no punches in disrespectfully declining Monsieur Montebourg’s request that Titan look into buying a tire factory in northern France. The highlights:

I have visited that factory a couple of times. The French workforce gets paid high wages but only works 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!

Sir, your letter states that you want Titan to start a discussion. How stupid do you think we are? Titan is the one with the money and the talent to produce tires. What does the crazy union have? It has the French government.

Titan is going to buy a Chinese tire company or an Indian one, pay less than one Euro per hour wage and ship all the tires France needs. You can keep the so-called workers. Titan has no interest in the Amien North factory.

Full text below.

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 not 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 good business, paying good wages. Goodyear tried for over four years to save part of the Amiens job that are some of the highest paid, but the French unions and French government did nothing but talk.

I have visited that factory a couple of times. The French workforce gets paid high wages but only works 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!

You are a politician so you don’t want to rock the boat. The Chinese are shipping tires into France—really all over Europe—and yet you do nothing. The Chinese government subsidizes all the tire companies. In five years, Michelin won’t be able to produce tires in France. France will lose its industrial business because its government is more government.

Sir, your letter states that you want Titan to start a discussion. How stupid do you think we are? Titan is the one with the money and the 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 these governments are subsidizing them. Your government doesn’t care either. “We’re French!”

The U.S. government is not much better than the French. Titan had to pay millions to Washington lawyers to sue the Chinese tore 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 wage and ship all the tires France needs. You can keep the so-called workers. Titan has no interest in the Amien North factory.

Best regards,

Maurice M. Taylor, Jr.
Chairman and CEO

Best regards, indeed.

U.S. CEO to France: ‘How Stupid Do You Think We Are? [WSJ Corporate Intelligence blog]
Goodyear : la lettre de Titan à Montebourg [Les Echos]
Tire executive derides French workers as lazy — in writing [MarketWatch The Tell blog]
You can keep the so-called workers – Titan’s Taylor replies to French offer [Tyre Press]
Goodyear : Montebourg va répondre à la lettre du PDG de Titan [Le Monde]

17 comments (hidden to protect delicate sensibilities)
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Comments (17)

  1. Posted by guest | February 20, 2013 at 2:10 PM

    Once a cheese eating surrender monkey, always a cheese eating surrender monkey

  2. Posted by Marc | February 20, 2013 at 2:17 PM

    I'm confused. Is English the CEO's first language?

  3. Posted by Monty | February 20, 2013 at 2:25 PM

    French minister Arnaud Montebourg has responded:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FWBUl7oT9sA

  4. Posted by Guesty | February 20, 2013 at 2:32 PM

    Sending a harsh letter is the new Farting in Their General Direction.

  5. Posted by el guesto | February 20, 2013 at 2:38 PM

    This was the most confusing letter from a CEO I've read in a long, long time. The underlying message may be sound (and the feeling of communicating that to the French must be phenomenal), but jesus-fuckin-christ this guy needs to learn to write.

    – not quite illiterate (but close) comment-er

  6. Posted by Not Cubes | February 20, 2013 at 2:38 PM

    If China is such a great fucking place that shithead Taylor ought to move there. Or be the next guest investor on Shark Tank.

  7. Posted by spiderbro | February 20, 2013 at 2:53 PM

    Shazar stepping up his game?

  8. Posted by Mason Storm | February 20, 2013 at 2:56 PM

    In other words (and a lot fewer): "This is for my wife. Fuck you and Die."

  9. Posted by Guest | February 20, 2013 at 3:00 PM

    Nah, just lifting material from the tinfoil webblog.

  10. Posted by Im_a_Dude | February 20, 2013 at 3:07 PM

    i actually got dizzy reading that letter

  11. Posted by mr. blonde | February 20, 2013 at 3:15 PM

    I don't think they offer English 101 at Michigan Tech.

  12. Posted by American Onion Soup | February 20, 2013 at 3:31 PM

    Maurice Taylor celebrated the completion of this letter by indulging in a large plate of freedom fries.

  13. Posted by Shazared | February 20, 2013 at 4:14 PM

    "How stupid do you think we are?"

    Should be a tag for all Shazar posts.

  14. Posted by Guesteban | February 20, 2013 at 4:31 PM

    Such a bizarre rant. A simple "Not interested, thanks" probably would have sufficed.

  15. Posted by PermaGuestII | February 20, 2013 at 4:39 PM

    Guy's nickname is "The Grizz" and when you go on the Titan International website it launches a quick popup of a roaring bear… this from a company in one of the most boring businesses imaginable (making tires and wheels for farm equipment.) This really shouldn't surprise anyone.

  16. Posted by guestest | February 20, 2013 at 7:08 PM

    He's about to buy a Chinese or Indian firm and is getting ready for negotiations

  17. Posted by BIGOT | February 22, 2013 at 3:56 AM

    I want to greet Mr Taylor for his very usefull comment of our (I am a frenchman) industrial and political situation. Could this comment be sent to him or could I get his Email. Unfortunatly, I don't Tweet.