Tiremaker François Michelin Dies at 88


Francois-Michelin

The former head of the famous tire manufacturer Michelin Group, François Michelin, passed away this past Wednesday at the age of 88.

No details on the cause of death were available immediately.

The grandson of company co-founder Edouard Michelin spent over half his life at his family’s company, most recently as a co-managing director until 1999 and having an active role until his retirement in 2002.

Michelin became the world’s biggest tire maker under François’ reign, up to when he left the tire empire in 2002. It became a big brand in the United States, with their mascot the Michelin Man being one of the most recognizable logos in the country.

"On behalf of the Group's employees, I would like to pay special tribute to this exceptional man who was universally respected for his values, his convictions, and his vision,"

Michelin CEO Jean-Dominique Senard said in a statement.

Mr. François Michelin dedicated his life to the company. He headed it for 47 years, when he handed over the reins to his son Édouard. A visionary and a humanitarian, Mr. François Michelin tirelessly embodied the values of respect that are the very foundation of our Group's identity.”

The legacy François Michelin leaves behind was pushing radial tires to the mainstream under the company that bears his name. Radial tires were a big improvement over the standard bias-ply tires. This is due to their construction, which creates better contact with the ground and reduces heat buildup. Radial tires are more efficient and have a longer tire life. A French ad of the era guaranteed “twice the distance, twice the safety, and twice the comfort.”

Today, the company still ranks among the tire industry’s world leaders, with sales last year of 19.5 billion euros, or $21.7 billion USD. Michelin employs more than 112,000 employees in 170 countries.

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