NO TREADING LIGHTLY FOR GOODYEAR

Settling into a new life with biltong, braais and bakkies, newly-appointed Goodyear South Africa Group Managing Director, Darren Hayes-Powell is excited by the prospect of enhancing both his own career and the company’s growth in the Sub-Saharan market, using recent investments as a platform to elevate production and distribution of the well-loved brand

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“The recent investments made by my predecessor have provided the building blocks for the South African business. This included the new fleet services and the R1 billion investment into the Uitenhage plant and with all of those structures in place, I think we must use them to grow productivity, moving beyond the borders of Sub-Saharan Africa and really launching ourselves into the market,” he says.

Goodyear in South Africa has been importing tyres from as early as 1912, with the Goodyear manufacturing plant in South Africa first initiated in 1945, and the first tyre released from production in January 1947. As a global organisation, Goodyear in South Africa and Sub-Saharan Africa forms part of Goodyear Tyre & Rubber Holdings and is represented in South Africa through Goodyear South Africa, TrenTyre and Hi-Q Automotive.

Operating in 22 countries with 49 facilities worldwide, Goodyear employs approximately 3 800 people in various South Africa and Sub-Saharan Africa locations alone. Their recently upgraded manufacturing plant, based in Uitenhage, produces Passenger, SUV, 4x4, Light Truck and Off-The-Road tyres and delivers to the market, Heavy Truck and Aviation tyres.

“As a company, we are always looking to the future, making sure we will be ready for the evolving needs of our customers. We also place a lot of emphasis on making safe tyres, and making those tyres safely and efficiently,” Hayes-Powell says.

“And in South Africa, our Hi-Q franchise network has proved to be very successful, and what I think is great about that brand is the quality of service, where service is targeted at the consumer. I am very proud, and I’ve been here for less than a 100 days but I’ve met a lot of franchisees, and their commitment is awe-inspiring. Another big part of our business, TrenTyre, is currently going through a few changes and the focus has shifted to partnering with clients when it comes to fleet service. TrenTyre has become very focused on creating a win-win partnership with customers, looking to do great retreads and helping customers to look after their tyres, optimise fuel efficiencies and provide 24/7 support,” he explains.

TrenTyre sells new multi-brand commercial, retreaded and off-road tyres and services to cater to its customer needs, delivering these products and services via an extensive countrywide branch—and retread factory network.

One of their primary services is FleetFirst, a tyre management solution, which provides premium quality tyres and service support as well as round-the-clock roadside assistance. Offering a comprehensive range of fleet efficiency services.

“TruckForce Mobile Vans is a newly-introduced premium service provision, which specialises in the complete lifecycle management of commercial truck tyres. Each van provides trained personnel and the equipment necessary to take care of any tyre-related situation. We also offer ServiceLine24h, TrenTyre’s emergency roadside assistance service, which is operated in a 24/7 call centre, uses a unique mapping system and leverages the company’s intimate knowledge and understanding of truck tyres, ensuring downtimes are kept to a minimum,” he explains.

TrenTyre’s Fleet Online Solutions (FOS) offers customers an Internet-based fleet management system with the latest development in tyre maintenance, allowing work to be carried out in locations across South Africa, and comes with an integrated management reporting suite and critical performance indicator tracker.

“Managing costs is also an important factor, particularly to fleets, and we understand that very well. Efficient tyre management and Retreading Multiple Life Concept realises cost savings to the fleets.

These retreaded tyres can offer a similar performance to new ones, using the same casing, materials and retread pattern in the retreading process,” he explains.

In his new role, Hayes-Powell aims to focus on three different areas and he believes that through FleetFirst and TrenTyre’s value-added services, Goodyear will be in an excellent position to ensure that customers receive superior support through their extensive network. He also plans to see the Hi-Q franchise expand to increase distribution while they work to develop new products on the manufacturing front.

The recent upgrades to their Uitenhage plant have seen the introduction of the latest technologies and processes and as a result, local production capacity has been increased by 30%.

Not only did this create another 40 jobs but it also provided an opportunity for skills development for all employees at the facility who received comprehensive training.

“Of course, we are excited about the opportunity to create more jobs but the upgrades will have a far-reaching impact on our business, allowing us to work more efficiently, increase productivity and produce leading edge tyres. This will allow us to compete more with increased imports. There are also benefits when it comes to the maintenance of the factory, where proactive maintenance will ultimately optimise how we work and what we produce. We can do more in less time and waste less. This was a crucial step in facilitating our market expansion into Sub-Saharan Africa,” he says.

“This new state-of-the-art plant puts Goodyear South Africa on par with global technological standards,” he adds.

The first tyre to be produced out of this state-of-the-art facility is the Wrangler All-Terrain Adventure tyre that is built with an ultra-strong, Kevlar® fibre overlay and reinforced by the company’s Durawall Technology.

Hayes-Powell, who has worked for Goodyear in a number of different roles and in a number of different countries, feels both excited and privileged to be working with his current leadership team. “I love working in a multi-cultural environment with local people from different backgrounds. I love to be challenged and take time to listen to our challenges, which we resolve together. I believe that part of leadership is pulling the best from a team towards one common goal,” he says.

Born to a family of engineers, Hayes-Powell followed suit, landing his first job with Rolls-Royce after completing his studies in engineering.

“Rolls-Royce developed me very well, both in terms of me as a person and skills development. I have always taken that as something I want to do for others. They supported me in becoming an all-rounder in business and I went on to train as an accountant and later on, complete a Masters in Business Administration (MBA) at Warwick University,” he says.

He then went on to start his career with Goodyear as the Finance and IT Director, UK, and later moved to Asia to support the factory build in Pulandian, China which is now one of the best performing plants under the Goodyear name.

His most recent role has been to lead the construction of Goodyear’s new manufacturing facility in Mexico while leading the finance function for Global Goodyear Operations and Technology. He was Vice President Finance Global Operations before moving into his current role in South Africa.

“Rolls-Royce took the time to invest in my career, not just academically but also with my leadership style. They provided me with constructive criticism and helped me to grow as a person.

“I think that forms the base of my own management style today. I admire people like Richard Branson, mostly for his determination and entrepreneurial thinking.

“When people said he couldn’t do things he proved them wrong, and he always talks about the team, proving that he made his businesses a success by making sure he had the right people around him.

“Nelson Mandela is another person I look up to, he brought different thinking together and I think he was a great listener, two qualities I always aspire to,” he concludes. 

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