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André Michelin

AKA André Jules Michelin

Born: 16-Jan-1853
Birthplace: Paris, France
Died: 4-Apr-1931
Location of death: Paris, France
Cause of death: Respiratory failure
Remains: Buried, Village Cemetery, Orcines, France

Gender: Male
Religion: Roman Catholic
Race or Ethnicity: White
Sexual orientation: Straight
Occupation: Business

Nationality: France
Executive summary: Founder of Michelin Group

In the late 1880s André Michelin took charge of his father-in-law's business, J. G. Bideau & Co, a maker of farm equipment with a small rubber factory making belts, gaskets, tubing, valves, and toy balls. Michelin recruited his brother Édouard to help run the business, which they renamed Compagnie Générale des Établissements Michelin (now Michelin) in 1888. Their first successful product was a rubber brake pad, introduced in 1889, but the company made its name with introduction of a detachable and easily repairable bicycle tire in 1891. Until then, damaged tires could only be patched at shops like the Michelins', where the work took about three hours of a craftsman's time. Working together, the Michelin brothers devised and patented a removable pneumatic tire that could be repaired or replaced on the roadside in mere minutes.

The company soon began making tires for horsedrawn carriages, and as late as the early 1890s André Michelin was quoted in a news account stating that he saw little future for automobiles or automobile tires. In 1895, Michelin introduced the first pneumatic automobile tire, and the brothers installed it on their own horseless carriage, which of course carried a billboard for the business. By the turn of the century the company was entirely focused on tires, and in 1900 Michelin authored and published the first Michelin Guide, ostensibly a guide to roadside hotels and restaurants but also an effective collection of ads for Michelin.

The "Michelin Man", a friendly fellow made of tires, was first envisioned by Édouard Michelin when he saw stacks of Michelin tires of assorted sizes and commented, "Add some arms, and you'd say they were men". André Michelin drew the first sketch of the Michelin Man, which has been the company's symbol since 1898. The icon's official name within the company is Bibendum or "the fat man", but in some of its earliest European incarnations it was identified as Michelin's "road drunkard". The Michelin Man may be the third oldest corporate icon still in use, behind Quaker Oats' grumpy pilgrim (1877), and Aunt Jemima (early 1890s).

Brother: Édouard (Michelin executive, b. 1859, d. 1940)
Wife: Sophie Wolff Michelin

    University: École Polytechnique

    Michelin President (1888-1931)
    European Automotive Hall of Fame
    French Ancestry

Author of books:
Michelin Guide (1900)


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