By Emily Stevenson
Pete Selleck’s first stop after leaving the Army was Michelin. He joined the company in 1982 as an industrial engineer with the initial goal to be a plant manager, because it “seemed like a pretty important and significant job to me.” After 11 years of hard work, he accomplished what he set out to do – and then went on to do more.
“I achieved my career goal in my late 30s,” Selleck says. “The rest of my career has been icing on the cake.”
And Selleck has had a hefty amount of icing. He’s held five positions since his stint as a plant manager, first going into business management where he was responsible for the passenger and light truck business in the company’s North America plant. He then expatriated to France for eight years, where he was in charge of the European passenger tire business. And in 2011, Selleck took the helm as chairman and president of Michelin North America, the company’s largest global operating unit.
“What’s unique about my career is that I had a chance to run multi-billion dollar businesses in North America, Europe, and globally,” he says. “Very few people have had that opportunity. Michelin gave me the opportunity to do some interesting things.”
During Selleck’s tenure as president and chairman of Michelin NA, the company has invested nearly $4 billion in its North American operations. Michelin has continued to innovate its products and processes, resulting in better safety and performance. One of the areas Selleck says has seen improvement is environmental impact.
“Most people don’t know that the flexing of the tire as it’s rolling down the road consumes about 20 percent of the fuel a car uses and 30 percent of the fuel a truck uses,” he says. “We have technology that has been able to reduce that. It’s been very gratifying.”
Selleck has also been vocal about the need to fix South Carolina’s roads, serving as a key advocate for improvements. He says he’s pleased with the work the state legislature accomplished this past spring.
“I believe that 10 years from now we’ll be extremely grateful that the legislature did their job,” he says. “We’re going to have a road system. It’s so crucial to the future of the economy of the state.”
Although he’s retiring from corporate life, Selleck has no plans to slow down. He says he will continue to do some work with Michelin. He is also on the alumni board for the U.S. Military Academy and will continue that association. In addition, he is taking over as the state recruiting coordinator for West Point. Of course, he plans to have some fun, too.
“Just the normal things you do when you retire and have a lot of time,” Selleck says. “Traveling, taking a stroke or two off my golf game, spending times with my children and grandchildren, my mother and my wife’s mother.”
Meanwhile, back at Michelin, Scott Clark has been tapped as Selleck’s replacement effective Jan. 1, 2018. Clark will be responsible for all key customer-facing functions for the company, including sales and marketing for North America, as well as quality, technical, and supply chain units.
Selleck says that although the company does a fantastic job with the products that go to end users and consumers, the biggest opportunity for the company moving forward is to improve interactions with dealers and distributors.
“We have to be more customer-centric and how we can help them address business challenges,” he says. “A lot of that will require the company to learn how to empower people even more to simplify operations whenever we can and exploit technology, the digital revolution in front of us, to help make things better for our customers.”
During his time with the company, Selleck has certainly made things better for Michelin, and the area, too. Although not originally a native, he and his wife have called the Upstate home since he arrived in the early 1980s. He says it’s remarkable to see all the improvements that have been made in the community since then.
“I’m proud to say I work for Michelin,” he says. “I’m also extremely proud to say I live in Greenville, South Carolina. We should all have a big smile on our face about the progress that we’ve made.”