Under-the-radar, unexpected: 5 inspiring, surprising stories of 2023

Under-the-radar, unexpected: 5 inspiring, surprising stories of 2023
More than 12,000 Corsairs, assembled mostly by women, were produced during the war. Goodyear photo.

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By: Erin Pustay Beaven – Rubber News Staff

Every year there are stories that catch us by surprise. Often, they inspire us, make us laugh or simply challenge us as to see the world—and our industry—a little bit differently.

Here’s a look at five stories that did just that in 2023.

1. Power of love

Ukraine Power officially was approved as a 501(c)(3) in mid-December. Pictured are Marc Luckett (left), treasurer of the non-profit; Yana Malyk, executive director; and Whitney Luckett, president.
Photo courtesy of Whitney Luckett
Marc Luckett, Yana Malyk (center) and Whitney Luckett, launched Ukraine Power this year.

If you know Whitney Luckett, you know she’s the kind of woman who doesn’t wait for someone to take action. When there is a need, she steps up and steps in to help.

Luckett, president and owner of Simko North America, and her husband Marc, opened their home to businesswoman Yana Malyk and her daughters, who were Ukrainian refugees. In doing so, they provided a safe place for Malyk and her daughters to find their footing.

Offering a safe space was just the start.

Both Luckett and Malyk wanted to do something more, something for those still in Ukraine. The answer was to provide a little warmth and some extra power.

Together Luckett and Malyk launched Ukraine Power, an initiative aimed at ensuring those across Ukraine have access to power. On Nov. 16, 2022, Luckett and Malyk filed the paperwork to start Ukraine Power with the mission to provide generators and heaters to the people of Luhansk.

2. A show of gratitude

A show of gratitude
Michelin photo
Each year, Michelin and Delta team up to help World War II veterans return to Normandy.

Real, honest-to-goodness heroes are hard to find.

More than 79 years ago, thousands earned the honor, changing the entire world for the better.

On June 6, 1944, Allied Troops executed what was arguably the most important operation of World War II. The operation, known today as D-Day, ultimately gave the Allies the leverage they needed to turn the tide of the war in Europe and liberated France from Nazi control.

Each year Michelin shows how grateful it is.

Michelin and Delta Airlines teamed up again this year to give World War II veterans the chance to return to France. And it was there, on the beaches and cliffs of Normandy, that veterans found closure and experienced just how grateful the country—and the world—is for the bravery they showed.

It’s a program both look to continue in 2024, on the 80th anniversary of D-Day.

3. Goodyear Corsair comes home

Goodyear Corsair comes home
Goodyear photo
Goodyear manufactured about 12,000 Corsair planes during World War II.

Eighty years after rolling off the assembly line at Goodyear’s Akron facilities, one FG-1 (“Fighter Goodyear”) Corsair found its way home.

During the Akron Props and Pistons Festival, hosted Aug. 12-13, Col. John “Tater” Currenti (USAF, retired), a former F-16 pilot flew Corsair demonstrations at Akron Municipal Airport.

The Corsair showcased at the air show was manufactured in 1943 by Goodyear Aircraft just about 1,000 yards from where it was parked for static display. It was one of more than 12,000 such planes manufactured during the war, and one of many that were assembled by women who took to factory floors to help with the war effort.

“A lot of Rosie the Riveters worked on this airplane,” Currenti said. “It is a beautiful airplane to fly, well-harmonized and super maneuverable.”

The plane’s return to Akron came at an opportune time, as the tire maker that helped to ensure its production celebrated a milestone of its own.

Just about two weeks after the Corsair flew over the city, Goodyear marked its 125th anniversary.

4. Cabot’s steady leader

Cabot's steady leader
Cabot Corp. photo
Cabot CEO Sean Keohane (second from right) was named Rubber News’ 2023 Executive of the Year.

Since taking the helm of Cabot Corp. in 2016, Sean Keohane has set Cabot on course for growth.

And the company is getting there, in part because of the kind of leader Keohane is. The kind of leader that earned him our Executive of the Year title.

According to the Cabot employees who nominated their president and CEO for the award, Keohane embodies humble leadership. He listens, carefully weighs all sides of an issue and makes it a point to put people first—all of which are evident in his open door policy.

“His office door in Boston is frequently open so that colleagues can stop by to say hello, share ideas and collaborate,” the Cabot team that nominated Keohane wrote. “… He often travels to other facilities to further build relationship capital and foster in-person discussions—something he feels passionately about. As such, he consistently champions advancing an inclusive workplace where all employees can contribute, thrive and advance.”

But it’s not just that Keohane leads with humility, it’s that he led Cabot toward success. The kind of success defined by both sustainability—in operations and products that allow customers to achieve their own sustainability aims—and bottom lines. The company’s sales have nearly doubled under Keohane’s guidance.

And as he works to make Cabot stronger, he works to make the industry and the communities in which Cabot is located stronger, too, through his community service efforts.

In the end, Keohane isn’t just the kind of leader who inspires those around him, he inspires us all.

5. Akron’s Turnover Tire

Akron's Turnover Tire
Akron Athletics photo
The Turnover Tire drew national attention when it made its debut this fall.

The University of Akron and the city it calls home are built on a lot of things. Innovation, a passion for polymer science and a whole lot of grit.

So it makes sense that when the University of Akron football team needed a way to celebrate big defensive plays and offensives success, it turned to a tire.

During its first game of the season, the team introduced the Turnover Tire—a take on the big gold chain and slot machine celebrations that have become iconic in college football. When Akron’s defense forced a turnover—be it a fumble, interception or fourth-down sack—the Turnover Tire made its appearance on the sidelines.

“There’s still plenty of tread on the tires in this program,” Akron Football Coach Joe Moorhead said, “and we’re going to find a way to make it work, put it on the car and drive this thing, drive this thing to success.”

And it turns out, that tire had ties to another Akron icon, the only tire maker that still calls the city home: Goodyear.

Yep, both the Turnover Tire—and later, the Touchdown Tire—were Goodyear made.

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