|Formerly||The General Tire & Rubber Company (also referenced as "The General Tire & Rubber Co.") (commonly referred to as "General Tire" starting in the 1960s) (1915–1984)|
General Tire, Inc. (1984–1987)
|Predecessor||The Western Rubber & Supply Company (also referenced as "The Western Rubber & Supply Co.") (1909–1911)/The Western Tire & Rubber Company (also referenced as "The Western Tire & Rubber Co.") (1911–1915)|
|Founded||1915, Akron, Ohio, U.S.|
|Founders||William Francis O'Neil|
(General Manager, General Tire & Rubber)
Winfred E. Fouse
(Director, General Tire & Rubber)
Charles J. Jahant
(Vice President, General Tire & Rubber)
(Director, General Tire & Rubber)
(Chief Chemist, General Tire & Rubber)
Continental Tire the Americas, LLC, d.b.a. General Tire, is an American manufacturer of tires for motor vehicles. Founded in 1915 in Akron, Ohio by William Francis O'Neil, Winfred E. Fouse, Charles J. Jahant, Robert Iredell, & H.B. Pushee as The General Tire & Rubber Company (also referenced as The General Tire & Rubber Co.; commonly referred to as General Tire starting in the 1960s) using funding from O'Neil's father, Michael, who owned Akron's O'Neil's department store, the company later diversified (in 1984) into a conglomerate (GenCorp) with holdings in tires (General Tire), rubber compounds (DiversiTech General), rocketry and aeronautics (Aerojet), entertainment and news (RKO General), and real estate. The tire division was sold to Germany's Continental in 1987, becoming Continental Tire North America, before its re-incorporation again to its current name. The compounds division was spun off & became OMNOVA Solutions. The rocketry business was kept and expanded, and after a couple company name changes, the parent company is now Aerojet Rocketdyne Holdings.
William Francis O'Neil had a Firestone franchise in Kansas City. He started a small manufacturing facility for tire repair products, and called it The Western Rubber & Supply Company (also referenced as The Western Rubber & Supply Co.) initially, then The Western Tire & Rubber Company (also referenced as The Western Tire & Rubber Co.).
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 Tire and Rubber. He went into partnership with four other men, using funding gained from his father, and formed The General Tire & Rubber Company in 1915 using $200,000 in capital borrowed from the store. O'Neil & his associates hired away some Firestone managers.
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 1.8% of the tire market. During the depression, as competitors failed, The General Tire & Rubber Company bought out Yale Tire and Rubber, and India Tire and Rubber. By 1933, it had increased market share to 2.7%. This was a relatively large number, considering that the company limited its product line.
Because the Depression was particularly hard on manufacturing, The General Tire & Rubber Company bought several Ohio radio stations on which it advertised. In 1943, it 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.
The company 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 (purchased from R. H. Macy & Company alongside WOR & Bamberger Broadcasting; named as a result of The General Tire & Rubber Company's increased investment in WOR). RKO/General also added Canadian 50,000 watt power house CKLW in Windsor to the family. The "Big 80" was #1 in the Detroit market
The company's final move into entertainment was the acquisition of RKO Radio Pictures from Howard Hughes in 1955 for $25 million. The General Tire & Rubber Company 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 became known initially as RKO Teleradio Pictures, then RKO Teleradio, before eventually becoming 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 by 1991.
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 The General Tire & Rubber Company, using their capitalization, expertise with rubber binders, and chemical manufacturing facilities. The partnership was renamed Aerojet-General.
In its advertising in the 1970s and '80s, General Tire's slogan was: "Sooner or later, you'll own Generals."
The current advertising campaign is "Anywhere is Possible."
General Tire re-incorporated itself to General Tire, Inc. & reorganized its holdings into the holding company GenCorp, Inc. in 1984, with General Tire and RKO General as subsidiaries.
In early 1909 O'Neil and Fouse pooled their capital and established the Western Rubber & Supply Company (renamed the Western Tire & Rubber Company in 1911), which only sold already made tires.
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