U.S. exec to France: ‘How stupid do you think we are?’

Follow us on Twitter @AJCBiz

(Updated 9:02 p.m.)

The chairman of Titan International, a major U.S. producer of tires for farming and construction, has made it perfectly clear to France that he has no intentions of putting French workers on his payroll.

Titan has plants around the world, including Europe, and French industry Minister Arnaud Montebourg suggested to Chairman Maurice Taylor that his company take over a Goodyear plant due to close  north of Paris, putting 1,000 workers out of  work. Titan also makes Goodyear farm tires.

“How stupid do you think we are?” Taylor wrote to Montebourg in a letter obtained by European media outlets. The U.S. exec, whose nickname is “The Grizz,” then proceeds to rip the French official over how little his fellow citizens work.

“I have visited that factory a couple of times,” Taylor said of the Amiens facility. “The French workforce gets paid high wages, but works only three hours. They get one hour for breaks and lunch, talk for three and work for three hours.”

The letter also added a kicker: “Titan is going to buy a Chinese tire company or an Indian one, pay less than one Euro per hour wage and ship all the tires France needs. You can keep the so-called workers. Titan has no interest in the Amiens North factory.”

Montebourg has since responded in a follow-up letter:”Your words, as extremist as they are insulting, show a perfect ignorance of our country,” the French government official wrote.

Quincy, Ill.-based Titan makes tires under its corporate name for agriculture, construction, forestry and mining vehicles. Taylor, who made a 1996 bid for the Republican presidential nomination, also knocked the French government and U.S. government for getting in the way of industry.

28 comments Add your comment

way to go

February 23rd, 2013
6:31 pm

way to go Titan, stand up to those almighty self centered ego maniacs known as “Government”

Hugh Jass

February 23rd, 2013
8:54 pm

Yep. I lived in France for a time. Super hot chicks and people who don’t do much.


February 23rd, 2013
8:56 pm

Sir, I would say very Stupid for even putting such callous comments in writing to be inadvertently leaked
to the media. Such Bravado comments has turned the French Market against your product, even if it is the Best tasting french wine in the world. You are NOW BURNED FRENCH TOAST! :)

The Corporate Board and its share holders will demand your resignation in short order.


February 24th, 2013
4:57 am

Good luck selling tires to the French if they don’t have jobs. Good luck selling tires to the Chinese and Indians who make less than a Euro, little more than a dollar an hour. Good luck selling to governments where close to 40 countries around the world take on debt daily with zero interest rate policies and money printing to try and make up for the lack of consumer demand around the world. Chinese factory workers average 950 dollars a year pay in 2000 and close to 6,000 dollars a year now, with the trend still straight up.This is offset by the low interest rates, when they normalize, manufacturers like Titan are going to go kaboom.

gary moss

February 24th, 2013
6:37 am

If his board of directors don’t fire this idiot immediately, then we’ll know exactly how stupid they are.


February 24th, 2013
8:53 am

yeah that’s why France has the fifth largest economy in the world by nominal figures!

JF McNamara

February 24th, 2013
10:20 am

Could he have said the same thing about Americans? We make more than a Euro an hour. I’m sure we don’t work as hard a people trying to get out of poverty either. I’m not sure where the line is.


February 24th, 2013
3:28 pm

Viva la France!!!!

Old South

February 24th, 2013
4:12 pm

This is the kind of cultured and wise man our country allows to make large money and decisions over large groups of people. I’m sure some plant workers aren’t productive. I’m also sure the CEO has several golf memberships and is gone from work every Friday by noon.

American business hates it’s workers, it’s shareholders and even itself. Eventually, the current system will break again and we can rebuild a more just society.


February 24th, 2013
4:32 pm

stalin's ghost

February 25th, 2013
9:17 am

considering we elected, then REelected the most incompetent man in history to run the nation…..
its reasonable to me the French think we are stupid – we vote like it

invictus mon

February 25th, 2013
9:46 am

Pretty sure his problem is with the lack of working labor and not the price of it. I lived in France for a time, he’s right. C’est la vie only goes so far in the business world. We can’t all take 2 hours for lunch (I’m lucky to take lunch most days), we can’t strike on a bimonthly basis because we don’t feel like working, and we value efficiency. That is what makes America one of the strongest economies in the world. Those areas where it is crumbling, it’s because we’re forgetting those values. Glad to know our top level CEOs have that understanding.


February 25th, 2013
9:46 am

hey slick, you forgot who the stupid party is


February 25th, 2013
9:49 am

Stalin’s Ghost, I, too, can’t believe we elected “W.” twice. We are soooo STUPID!


February 25th, 2013
9:58 am

Michelin, a French company, seems to do okay ($28B in 2012 sales), and they also make a quality product.


February 25th, 2013
10:46 am

C’mon guys, cut the French a little slack. They just want to enjoy a little “la belle vie” in between German occupations.


February 25th, 2013
12:26 pm

The CEO is Titan is a big meanie and bully. No need to insult another country’s workforce like that!


February 25th, 2013
12:51 pm

At Least France and her citizens were not Stupid enough to Follow W’s lead into IRAQ and Kill and injure millions of its citizens and their Homes. Then spend untold Billions of Eruros and loss of thousands French Citizen soldiers lives and caused the physicial maiming of thousands more of their OWN soldiers on what turned out to be NON-EXISTENT WEAPONS OF MASS DESTRUCTION.

Then kill the country’s Leaders and changed the reason for the invasion AFTERWARDS, and say with a straight FACE, it was All in the name of FREEDOM!

That was the most STUPID DECISION of the Century. and we are still PAYING FOR IT & will PAY for many YEARS to COME!

Now the Stupid Party was to to tell America President Obama is the worst President America has ever had. How STUPID is that?

northern neighbor

February 25th, 2013
12:58 pm

He should have simply said, “no thank-you.”
Jon – guess where Michelin makes most of it’s tires – South Carolina.


February 25th, 2013
9:14 pm

This story is too good to be true…is it really true? This CEO should be President!


February 26th, 2013
6:17 am

I actually liked the story. Opinion is different from fact. If not one of you have met an arrogant frenchman trying to sell you a mediocre item, you might listen to people who have.
Bernie, No France was not that stupid, Oh did you read about the WW1 Armistice or the Maginot line? And, Bernie, which wine is the best tasting? I mean specifically which one?

There are many Europeans who come to the US, who think we are all like those characters in Andy Of Mayberry, I know. I have met plenty. There seems to be the idea that some people have brainwashed themselves to think that 1000 Years of European nations warring with each other is a superior culture.
And what does GW Bush have to do with this topic? Or Obama?


February 26th, 2013
8:47 am

I’m thinking Michelin forged that letter and sent it. Yeah, European workers get a lot of time off and may not work as hard as US worker-slaves, but the CEO of a company shouldn’t say those things in public! I don’t think Goodyear will appreciate that when people stop buying their tires because they associate them with your company.


February 26th, 2013
11:38 am

Unbelievable ignorance and prejudice on the part of the head of Titan. I bet he has sent U.S. jobs to China and India also. I lived in France. They have 3 auto manufacturers, with the exception of Germany, there is no other European country that has kept its auto manufacturing at this level. They produce 70% of the worlds high speed trains. The European Space Agency is located in France. Airbus, the only real competitor to Boeing, is based in France. They have 1/2 of the number of nuclear power plants as the U.S. in a country the size of Texas. They design some of the most technically difficult suspension bridges in the world. While there my husband, an American, worked for Pitney Bowes to oversee their European service organization. They had acquired a similar French company. Believe me they work hard. Yes, they are not a Chinese nor Indian sweatshop. If they didn’t work hard how could they produce all the products I have mentioned? I wish we could treat our employees with the respect and vacation time they do and still maintain our manufacturing.

Clubber Lang

February 26th, 2013
12:23 pm

@ stalin’s ghost – I didn’t think W was that bad….


February 26th, 2013
5:41 pm

I applaud Mr. Taylor’s statements although they could have been said with a touch more class. If you think he’s an idiot, then you don’t get the international business climate today. France is one of the worst places to do business and their so called “economy” is mostly governmental spending. They have extraordinary unemployment because of their employment practices. And for the comments about Michelin, they make money around the world because they manufacture and sell their product around the world. NOT because they are a well run French company.


February 28th, 2013
12:14 pm

After checking Mr. Taylor’s stock holdings in Titan International, I really don’t believe he gives a rat’s a$$ about what any of you think!!!


March 1st, 2013
1:35 pm

I just checked Titan’s financials. 2012 isn’t out yet, but 2012 they posted their highest sales since 2007, I guess someone, somewhere is buying their tires. And “The Grizz” has been with the company for at least 20 year, 8 as chairman and CEO. I doubt very seriously the Board is going to fire him because he said the French are lazy.

Armericans are stupid

March 1st, 2013
7:28 pm

What a surprise, a boorish American making an ignorant comment. Goodyear just lost me as a customer. But then, I would never buy anything made in America.