Paul Weeks Litchfield
Litchfield Park, Arizona
Paul Weeks Litchfield, the founder of Litchfield Park, was a very innovative and professional businessman. His individual achievements and contributions to The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company were considered the most significant to the success and stature of the company.
Mr. Litchfield was born in Boston, Massachusetts on July 26th, 1875. His father was a Mayflower descendent of George Soule and Myles Standish and his mother, from Maine, came from a banking and seafaring background.
In 1896, he graduated from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology with a degree in Chemical Engineering. He purposely started a career in manufacturing and his first job in 1897, was at a company that produced bicycle tires and later, tires for New York’s Fifth Avenue bus line. It was because of his success that Mr. Frank A. Seiberling of Goodyear offered Paul Litchfield a job as Plant Superintendent on July 15, 1900 for $2,500 a year.
Mr. Litchfield’s job was to develop a superior pneumatic automobile tire and improve bicycle and carriage tire production. In 1901, he designed the straight side tire and by 1905, he had improved the tire enough that Goodyear was selling tires as original equipment for automobiles. The success of the straight side led Goodyear to supremacy in the tire and rubber industry. Other innovations and achievements by Mr. Litchfield came when he designed the original non-skid tire and established a Research and Development Department.
In 1908, Mr. Litchfield won three patents for an interchangeable rim, a new method of laying plies in tires and a new vulcanizing mold. He branched into air transportation by building the first practical airplane tire. His interest in aviation led to the famous Goodyear blimps, also dirigibles, zeppelins and Navy airships.
He established the Goodyear Aircraft Corporation to make airplane parts. This expanded into a contract for Corsair fighters, which made Goodyear one of the 10 largest producers of aircraft during WWII. Mr. Litchfield was innovative within the Corporation by emphasizing management training, establishing an eight-hour work day and a pension plan.
He led the company into pioneering work in pneumatic tires for trucks. His leadership paved the way for interstate trucking. In 1926, the first contract was signed for tire distribution with a mass- merchandiser, Sears Roebuck & Company revolutionizing the marketing of tires.
Mr. Litchfield’s career spanned 59 years with Goodyear; he was named a member of the board of directors in 1906; factory manager in 1911; Vice President of Production in 1915 and the seventh President of the company in March of 1926.
Mr. Litchfield was named Goodyear’s Chief Executive Officer and was elected Chairman of the Board in 1930. He remained President for 20 years and CEO another 26 years. He retired as Chairman of the Board in October of 1958. Less than six months after retiring as Chairman he died on March 18, 1959 at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Phoenix, Arizona.
His writings include an autobiography “Industrial Voyage” “Autumn Leaves” his philosophy of life, and “The Industrial Republic” a philosophy of industrial relations.
In his lifetime, Mr. Litchfield was presented several special awards. He received the Spirit of St. Louis medal for accomplishments in aeronautics and was inducted into The Automotive Hall of Fame. He helped Goodyear to become an international company and he received many awards from foreign countries.
He created the first Boy Scout Air Troop and served as an executive board member for the Boy Scouts of America. He served for 30 years on the Board of the University of Akron in Ohio. The University of Akron awarded Mr. Litchfield an honorary Doctor of Science Degree in 1946. He was president of the Rubber Manufacturers Association and a director of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
When Mr. Litchfield was celebrating his 50th anniversary with Goodyear, the company produced its 500 millionth tire. Mr. Litchfield was the only company employee who had been involved in producing every single tire.
We in Litchfield Park are privileged to have Paul Weeks Litchfield as our founder.