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General Tire

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The General Tire and Rubber Company is an American manufacturer of tires for motor vehicles

General Tire was founded in 1915 in Akron, Ohio, by William F O'Neil The company later diversified into a conglomerate with holdings in tires, rubber compounds, rocketry and aeronautics, entertainment and news, and real estate

The tire and rubber division was sold to Germany's Continental in 1987, and is now known as Continental Tire North America, Inc The rocketry business was kept and expanded and after a couple company name changes, the parent company is now Aerojet Rocketdyne Holdings

Contents

  • 1 History
    • 11 Formation
    • 12 Growth
    • 13 Conglomeration
      • 131 Radio, television, and film
      • 132 Rocketry
  • 2 Marketing
  • 3 Reorganization
  • 4 References
  • 5 External links

Historyedit

Formationedit

William O'Neil had a Firestone franchise in Kansas City He started a small manufacturing facility for tire repair products, and called it Western Tire and Rubber1

Newspaper ad for General Tire from 1919

As Firestone grew, it sold additional franchises, reducing the territories of its earlier franchisees Dissatisfied, O'Neil decided to compete with Firestone instead, using the expertise he had gained with Western He went into partnership with his father, a department store owner in Akron, and formed General Tire in 1915 using $200,000 in capital borrowed from the store The O'Neils hired away some Firestone managers1

Initially, they focused on repair materials, as with Western Tire, but in 1916 they expanded into tire manufacturing, focusing on high-end products1 Early products included:12

  • General Jumbo, a premium replacement for Ford Model T trucks
  • Low-pressure General Balloon Jumbo
  • Dual 90 tires

Growthedit

Despite the difficult business climate of World War I, in 1917, O'Neil established a dealership network and began an advertising campaign By 1930, the company had 14 retail stores and about 18% of the tire market During the depression, as competitors failed, General bought out Yale Tire and Rubber, and India Tire and Rubber By 1933, it had increased market share to 27% This was a relatively large number, considering that the company limited its product line1dead link

Conglomerationedit

Radio, television, and filmedit

Because the depression was particularly hard on manufacturing, General bought several Ohio radio stations on which it advertised In 1943, General Tire diversified the core business strategy, purchasing the Yankee Network and the radio stations it owned from Boston's Shepard Stores, Inc Thomas F O'Neil, son of the founder William F O'Neil, served as Yankee's chairman with Shepard's John Shepard III serving as president

General Tire continued its move into broadcasting by acquiring the Don Lee Broadcasting System, a well-respected regional radio network on the West Coast, in 1950 Among other stations, it added KHJ-AM-FM in Los Angeles and KFRC-AM-FM in San Francisco to its stable from the Yankee acquisition In 1952, it bought WOR/WOR-FM/WOR-TV in New York City and merged its broadcasting interests into a new division, General Teleradio

General Tire's final move into entertainment was the acquisition of RKO Radio Pictures from Howard Hughes in 1955 for $25 million General Tire was interested mainly in using the RKO film library to program its television stations, so it sold the RKO lot at Sunset and Gower in Hollywood to Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz's Desilu Productions in 1956 for $6 million The remaining assets of RKO were merged with General Teleradio, and the new company eventually became known as RKO General The radio stations became some of the leading broadcasters in the world, but the division was dragged down by unethical conduct at its television stations This culminated in the longest licensing dispute in television history, eventually forcing RKO General out of the broadcasting business

Rocketryedit

Main article: Aerojet Rocketdyne

In the late 1930s, the United States Army became interested in rockets A group of California Institute of Technology engineers won a contract to produce rocket engines to speed airplane liftoff, and formed a company named Aerojet The group succeeded with liquid-fuel rockets, but needed additional materials science and manufacturing expertise to create more sophisticated solid-fuel rockets Aerojet went into partnership with General Tire, using General's capitalization, expertise with rubber binders, and chemical manufacturing facilities The partnership was renamed Aerojet-General

Marketingedit

In its advertising in the 1970s and '80s, the brand's slogan was: "Sooner or later, you'll own Generals"

Reorganizationedit

General Tire reorganized its holdings into the holding company GenCorp in 1984, with General Tire and RKO General as subsidiaries

GenCorp sold General Tire to German tire maker Continental AG in 1987 General Tire still exists today as part of Continental's American operations

Referencesedit

  1. ^ a b c d e Jones, Edward "The Aerojet 'General'" Playing with Fire Retrieved October 7, 2013 
  2. ^ General Tire Canada Corporate history, 1915-1937

External linksedit

  • General Tire website
  • General Tire Club

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