Goodyear meets veteran goal

Chris Payne is a veteran of the U.S. Army currently employed by Goodyear-Gadsden. He is a training manager who now helps with recruiting and has recruited several other veterans.Chris Payne is a veteran of the U.S. Army currently employed by Goodyear-Gadsden. He is a training manager who now helps with recruiting and has recruited several other veterans.

Two years ago, The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company made a commitment to hire 1,000 United States military veterans over a three-year period. Recently, the company announced that it surpassed that goal more than a year early and has pledged to hire an additional 1,000 veterans.

“The response to Goodyear’s military hiring initiative – both from veterans and the public, has been incredible,” said Gary VanderLind, vice president of human resources for Goodyear North America. “Thanks to our military recruiting efforts and the talent exhibited by veteran candidates, we’ve surprised our initial goal and are making an aggressive new pledge to hire 1,000 more veterans over the next year.”

Goodyear’s original commitment was announced in cooperation with the United States Chamber of Commerce Hiring Our Heroes program, a nationwide initiative to help veterans, transitioning service members and military spouses find meaningful employment opportunities.

“It is simply amazing what Goodyear has been able to do in only two years,” said Eric Eversole, vice president at the US Chamber and executive director of Hiring Our Heroes. “Thanks to industry leaders like Goodyear and the companies who have followed suit, we have seen real progress and momentum in the effort to get veterans back to work in America. There is still so much to be done on this issue, but Goodyear is setting a tremendous example by doubling down on their commitment.”

Locally, Goodyear’s Gadsden plant has hired 23 military veterans for management positions during the two-year period.

“We support the goal of the Hiring Our Heroes program, and we are proud to know that Goodyear also supports this mission,” said Heather New, president of The Chamber, Gadsden/Etowah County. “These families have sacrificed so much to serve our country, and we must recognize and remove the obstacles they often face with reintegration into the workforce after deployment. The program allows employers to directly connect with a highly-trained, highly-skilled workforce that has a proven record of performance.”

Veterans, guardsman and reservists looking to build a civilian career will find the Goodyear culture supportive of traditional military values with a focus on delivering results, VanderLind said.

“Goodyear associates are committed to building the highest quality products in a supportive team-based culture,” he said. 

Chris Payne, a native of Walnut Grove, has found his post-military career with Goodyear-Gadsden to be a positive experience that allows him to utilize the skills he learned in the U.S. Army.

“I’ve been able to use the leadership skills I gained during my military service,” he said. “The military gave me the ability to manage multiple, simultaneous projects. I’m successfully able to juggle competing priorities that have deadlines and budgets. I operate with integrity and with a sense of urgency – all attributes I learned in the military, and I’ve been able to transition those attributes into the civilian world.”

Payne was a cadet with the ROTC at Jacksonville State University for two years and served in the Alabama Army National Guard. After graduation in 2008, he was commissioned into the army as a second lieutenant and worked briefly as a recruiter.

From 2009 to 2012, Payne was stationed at Fort Bragg and Fort Benning and served deployments in Haiti, Kuwait and Iraq. It was time away from his family – wife Tammy and children Carson, 7, and Presley, 3 – that led him to his decision to resign from the army.

“When I was looking for a civilian job, I knew I wanted to work for a company that valued my military skills,” he said. “Goodyear made it clear that they supported veterans and wanted to make their workforce even stronger by hiring veterans. Goodyear also offers me great opportunities and the potential to advance my career so it is a great match for me.”

Payne was offered a job as an area manager at the Gadsden Plant in May 2012 but he didn’t start until his military commitment was complete several months later.

“I signed out of the army on a Friday and started working at Goodyear on a Monday,” he said. “I appreciated that they held a job for me. It made the transition so much smoother for me and my family.”

Eight months after working as an area manager in Extrusion, Payne accepted a promotion to training manager. He helps with recruiting and he oversees the training of hourly and salaried Goodyear associates. He has personally recruited several veterans, three of whom earned a promotion within a year.

“All of them are high potential employees who are looking for a stable career in manufacturing management,” he said. “I tell all of them that if they’re committed to what they do, the sky is the limit at Goodyear. You can determine where your career takes you.” 

Goodyear currently has a variety of career opportunities across many areas of its business for which veterans would be ideally suited, including engineers, front-line managers, service technicians and corporate roles in the supply chain, procurement, finance and human resources. 

Locally, Goodyear is hiring an electrician, labor relations manager and maintenance mechanic at the plant as well as an automotive service technician at the Goodyear Auto Service Center on West Meighan Boulevard.

Anyone interested in employment with Goodyear should visit for the latest job postings. Also, other employers interested in becoming a partner in the Hiring Our Heroes program should contact The Chamber at 256-543-3472 or email

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