Gordon Linkous, director of manufacturing at Goodyear’s Gadsden plant, said the facility has a bright future thanks in part to the efforts of retired employees.
Linkous spoke Thursday at a luncheon for retirees at Convention Hall. The event was held in conjunction with the plant’s 85th anniversary.
He said the plant has seen ups and downs since it opened in 1929, and noted that the retirees present had experienced a lot of them.
“Right now, Gadsden is experiencing a whole lot of ups,” Linkous said. “A lot of good things are happening at the plant.”
He said the plant has hired additional employees and will be installing new tire-building machines this year.
Its newest tire was introduced this week. It will only be produced in Gadsden and will be used on the 2015 Ford F-150 aluminum body truck.
“That’s a really big deal for the tire industry,” Linkous said, pointing out that the F-150 is Ford’s top seller. The new model will be “extra special,” he said, as the first vehicle with a frame made completely of aluminum.
The new machines will allow the plant to increase daily production.
“We’ve have several projects that are coming in the very near future that are very promising,” Linkous said, “that will give us an even bigger boast to make us more valuable to the Goodyear footprint and ensure the longevity of the Gadsden plant.
“The future is bright, everyone’s excited, but most of those things … could not have happened if it wasn’t for the work and the labor and the skills and talent that you all devoted to Goodyear during your time there,” he said. “So thank you very much.”
In an interview after his speech, Linkous said the plant’s daily “ticket” or production level will be increasing from 20,600 tires to 22,100 tires.
Twenty-two people have been hired and have begun training in conjunction with the additional tire-building machines, which are set for mid-summer installation.
Linkous said there will be “two or three” of those machines, and a couple more could be added in the future. That could prompt additional hiring, although not at the same level.
Linkous said, “The business is doing well and the company is doing well as a whole.”
He said requirements and requests for “specific tires” from customers has increased, and the Gadsden plant produces a number of those “high-value tires.” That’s another reason it’s adding machines.
The Gadsden plant employs about 1,500 people, and Linkous expects employment to stay at that level for the foreseeable future.
“The business is very promising for increasing that later on,” he said.
By Andy Powell, Times Staff Writer