During this year’s 2023 Tire Industry Honors Program held during Industry Week, Richard Smallwood, retired president and CEO of Sumitomo Rubber North America Inc., and Mary Sikora, publisher, editor and owner of Scrap Tire News/Recycling, were inducted into the Tire Industry Association‘s Tire Industry Hall of Fame. Also during the event Black’s Tire & Auto Brand Ambassador Frankie Underwood accepted Tire Review’s Top Shop Award from Tire Review Editor David Sickels.
Richard Smallwood, retired president and CEO of Sumitomo Rubber North America Inc. (SRNA) is known for his integrity, passion, value of people and as a visionary leader open to new ideas. He remains chairman of SRNA, is on the board of Sumitomo Rubber U.S.A. and is an advisor of Sumitomo Rubber Industries of Japan. He regularly credited the companys workforce for its strong growth during his tenure. Smallwood has spent nearly 35 years in the tire industry, including 22 years at Falken Tire Corp., which later was renamed SRNA.
He also served as an executive officer at parent company, Sumitomo Rubber Industries, the first non-Japanese person promoted to that position. At Falken and SRNA, Smallwood focused the company’s lineup on UHP and sport light truck tires and later expanded that to include ultra-high performance, passenger car, SUV, crossover, light truck and medium truck products. A passionate car guy, he also led SRNA to gain its first original equipment fitments. Smallwood serves the broader tire industry as an eight-year current board member of the U.S. Tire Manufacturers Association and has spoken at conferences worldwide where one of his topics was the evolving autonomous vehicle industry. In addition, he represented the tire industry when he testified before the U.S. Commerce Department on the negative impact of tariffs against imported autos and auto parts, as imported steel was impacted at the time.
Long before recycling and sustainability became household words, Mary Sikora recognized the need to better manage the flow of scrap tires that were being landfilled or stockpiled in the United States. She created a newsletter that began to emphasize the important contribution tire and rubber recycling can make for the economy and the environment by creating new businesses, jobs and products. That newsletter grew into today’s monthly Scrap Tire News, which is considered a top publication in the scrap tire and recycling industries and is a reference for various state and federal environmental governing bodies.
Twenty-five years ago, Sikora’s passion for tire recycling led her to the then-American Retreaders Association where she encouraged leadership to add a tire recycling component to its annual trade show. Through her efforts, tire recycling businesses found a home where they could exhibit, and trade show attendees were able to view the latest methods to process scrap tires into useful products. She added seminars to the program and encouraged legislative attendees to assist the industry in finding solutions for capturing the raw materials designed into tires. Sikora was instrumental in the creation of the Tire and Rubber Recycling Advisory Council within the ARA and later assisted in developing TIA’s Environmental Advisory Council. Through these and other efforts, Sikora is recognized as a “go to” person in the tire recycling industry.