One CEO of a major U.S. tire maker received much criticism recently after he wrote a letter to a French industry minister saying he would never take over a French factory because of their poor work ethic.
Maurice “Morry” Taylor is Titan International’s CEO, a company that makes tires mainly for tractors. In a letter to Arnaud Montebourg, he wrote how he had no interest in buying a doomed French plant.
“The French workforce gets paid high wages but works only three hours. They get one hour for break and lunch, talk for three and work for three,” Taylor said in the letter. “I told this to the French union workers to their faces. They told me that’s the French way! How stupid do you think we are?”
The letter was posted by business daily Les Echos on its website.
He explained that he was going to buy another factory in a different country.
“Titan is going to be buy a Chinese tire company or an Indian one, pay less than one Euro per hour wage and ship all the tires France needs,” he wrote. “You can keep the so-called workers.”
While his letter was insulting to France, he also admitted his hatred for the U.S. government.
“The U.S. government is not much better than the French,” he said, as he explained Western leaders were failing to stop state-subsidized Chinese exports.
The CEO, often referred to as “The Grizz” due to his tough demeanor, spent 23 years working on Titan and building it into a global brand. He ran in the 1996 Republican primary, touting his pro-business views.
During his campaign, he admitted he was “abrasive” but that he had to be in order to “get the job done.”
“The politicians, they all want you to like them,” he said. “I don’t care if people like me.”
Taylor wrote the letter in response to Paris consulting Titan as a potential buyer for Goodyear’s Amiens Nord factory in northern France. Though Montebourg did not make an immediate reply, he said, “Don’t worry, there will be a response.”
Other leaders were less hesitant to respond. CGT official Mickael Wamen said Taylor was “insulting” and he belonged in “an asylum.”
Though the country’s per-head productivity levels rank among the best in Europe, they have experienced a long industrial decline, denting exports, and economists believe this is directly related to their rigid hiring and firing laws.
The Goodyear plant in France has 1,250 workers, but they’ve been battling demands to work more shifts and face layoffs. In January, the government said the plant will be shut down.