Tuesday, February 7, 2012

BIG TIME DUCK HUNTER! Or, Lousy Liar. We Report, You Decide.

You might find your destination better if you understand
"It is the mark of an educated mind to entertain a thought without acepting it"

There is no worse lie than a truth that is misunderstood
Founders of Goodyear and Seiberling Tire and Rubber Companies

In 1953, just out of the Navy, I went to work as a specification writer and technician at the Seiberling Tire and Rubber Company in Barberton, OHio.  I worked for a chemist by the name of John Boroff in the Shoe Products and Mechnical Goods Division, headed by TK Seiberling.  His father, Williard, named him Theophilus Karnaham, hence, the TK.

There were five of us who ran development and production in the local and three subsidary plants.  We daily had lunch together in the company cafeteria.  TK was always dressed like and played the part of an executive and the founder's son.  He was also an avid sportsman.  He asked me one day, "Walt, have you ever done any duck hunting?".  I told him that I had shot hundreds of ducks.  He asked, "Did you aim right at the duck when you shot?".  I said, of course I aimed right at the duck.  He then said, "You never went duck hunting in your life!"

Returning to our offices, I told my boss, John Boroff, that I was disappointed that TK disbelieved me when I said I had killed hundreds of ducks.  I assured him that it was true.  He explained that shooting at a flying duck, it was necessary to "lead" the duck while aiming because ducks flew so fast that by the time the shot got to the duck, the duck would be gone.
Surprized, I replied  "You can't hit a flying duck", I shot them in the water at the mouth of Old Town Creek where they swam by the hundreds".

I told John that although I was only shooting a single shot, 16 guage, shot gun, it was never a problem as the ducks would fly when I shot, circle around, land on the water again and I could shoot duck after duck.  I was only 14 or 15, lived by myself in West Virginia, and didn't know anything about sports shooting.  Actually, I shot the ducks without a license and out of season, facts that never seemed to bother the lady to whom I gave the ducks.

He laughed and laughed!  He said "Walt, never tell him that story.  He will think better of you for lying than he will for shooting a setting duck!"

I got a liberal education starting out as a spec writer at Seiberling.  After three years, I was approached by the much larger Tire Production Division to become part of their management team.  It was a great opportunity.  I was cautioned by Mr. Boroff, however, that TK would try to talk me out of taking the new position out of his own desire to keep me working for him, a selfish act.  He may have thought me a liar but I had turned out to be a pretty efficient worker.   TK asked, "Where do you think you'll ever end up in Tire Production?"  I replied that I thought that someday I might be Manager of Tire Production".  He laughed and rediculed that comment.  

In 1981, Firestone, who had acquired Seiberling, closed 10 North American tire plants and Goodyear had closed 11.  More closings followed.  These older plants all produced bias tires which got maybe 12,000 miles of service.  Newer plants produced the new radial tire which got mayber 60,000 miles of service.  Fewer plants were required to produce fewer tires.

THE LAST EIGHT YEARS OF THE PLANTS OPERATION I WAS MANAGER OF TIRE PRODUCTION.  I had the last laugh!  TK would never have believed that I would become a stock broker and eventually a Vice President with Prudential.

TK forgot his own humble beginning.  In 1898, his father, Williard and his uncle, Frank, had to borrow the $3,500 with which they bought the abandoned strawboard factory in which they founded Goodyear.  He forgot that they lost that company in the great depression.  He was coasting on the families come back with the start up of Seiberling with the financial blessing that was the second world war.  The Seiberling family again lost the company in a buyout by a rival, The Firestone Tire and Rubber Company.


God Bless You and Yours


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