Last weekend marked the 75th anniversary of the start of production at Topeka's Goodyear Tire and Rubber Co. plant.
This week’s History Guy video at CJOnline focuses on that plant, which employs about 1,500 people. It has been temporarily closed since Goodyear last week suspended manufacturing operations in North, Central and South America because of a decline in demand resulting from the spread of the new coronavirus.
Goodyear is one of the four largest tire manufacturers in the world.
A Topeka Daily Capital article published March 22, 1945, told how Goodyear’s Topeka plant had created its first two tires the previous day.
That plant’s peak employment was around 4,400 in the 1970s, said Jill Griego, its communications manager.
The Topeka plant at one time produced every type of Goodyear tire, Griego said. Today, it produces medium radial truck tires, off-the-road tires and Hummer tires.
The largest tire the Topeka plant produces stands about 13 feet tall and weighs more than 13,000 pounds, Griego said.
She said the U.S. military uses HMMWV tires built in Goodyear’s Topeka plant. That plant has produced more than 2.5 million such tires since Sept. 11, 2001, Griego said.
At times over the years, employees at Topeka’ Goodyear plant have gone on strike. Each strike has been resolved with management and employees reaching an agreement on a new contract.
The presence of Topeka's Goodyear plant is one reason the capital city has received numerous visits over the years from the company's iconic Goodyear blimps.
Goodyear’s Topeka plant plans in September to hold an event for employees and retirees to celebrate its 75th anniversary, though that won’t be open to the public, Griego said.