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.
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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]

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