History of Bridgestone Americas
Harvey S. Firestone (1868-1938) founded The Firestone Tire & Rubber Company in Akron, Ohio, in August 1900, & started marketing solid rubber tires for carriage wheels. A few years later, Henry Ford selected tires manufactured by Firestone for the first mass-produced automobiles in America. In 1911, Firestone began what would become a legendary involvement in car racing by entering & winning the first Indianapolis 500. Firestone also joined America’s “Good Roads” movement, supporting the Lincoln Highway Association in the creation of the first coast-to-coast highway, & advocated the creation of an interstate highway system as early as 1916.
Around the same time, Firestone also created the “Ship by Truck” campaign, encouraging manufacturers to move their products to markets by truck. In fact, the very first coast-to-coast truck shipment of goods traveled on Firestone tires. Firestone advertising of the era hailed its tires as producing “most miles per dollar.” By the 1920s, Firestone had become a world leader in tires & the company included its own retail store chain.
The Bridgestone Tire Co., Ltd. (renamed Bridgestone Corporation) was founded in 1931 in Kurume, Japan, by Shojiro Ishibashi (1885-1976), a manufacturer of rubber-soled footwear. Ishibashi, who admired Firestone, reversed the English translation of his own surname, which means “stone bridge,” to give his new venture a br& name with an international sound.
The quality of Bridgestone’s products was soon widely recognized, & its tires were adopted by the three leading automakers in Japan at the time: General Motors, Ford, & Chrysler. Bridgestone quickly expanded & diversified into sporting goods & other rubber products for industry. By the 1960s, it was poised for rapid international growth along with the Japanese auto industry. An all-out program to improve quality netted the company the prestigious Deming Prize in 1968.
Meanwhile, Firestone continued to grow & diversify into new markets. In 1961, Firestone acquired Dayton Tire, another tire industry pioneer. During its long history, Firestone developed numerous advances in tire & rubber technology, including the first non-skid tread, synthetic latex, & the first United States-produced radial tire.
Bridgestone entered the U.S. market in 1967 through a sales subsidiary in California. In 1983, Bridgestone established its first U.S. production base by purchasing a Firestone truck tire plant in LaVergne, Tenn. This plant continues to be an important manufacturing facility for truck & bus tires as well as light truck tires & passenger car tires as part of Bridgestone Firestone North American Tire, LLC.
Bridgestone purchased Firestone in 1988 for $2.6 billion, with the combined company being the world’s largest tire & rubber company. One of the first steps taken by the newly formed company was to build a new truck tire plant in Warren County, Tenn. The Warren County plant was completed in 1990. That same year, Bridgestone & Firestone operations in the Americas were consolidated as Bridgestone Firestone, Inc. As part of the integration with Bridgestone’s existing U.S. operations, Bridgestone Firestone moved its headquarters from Akron to Nashville in 1992.
In August 1997, Bridgestone Firestone announced that it would build a $435 million passenger & light truck tire plant in Aiken County, S.C. The plant began shipping tires in March 1999, & its almost 1000 team members currently produce more than 23,000 tires per day. A $24.5 million expansion of the facility was completed in December 2000. The state-of-the-art facility represents the latest tire manufacturing technology, including Bridgestone Firestone’s ACTAS, which stands for Automated Continuous Tire Assembly System. The company currently operates 15 tire plants in the Americas, with eight located in the United States.
Bridgestone Firestone, Inc., in an effort to focus more effectively on its core business units, initiated a series of changes to its corporate structure in December 2001. The reorganized company does business in the Americas under a holding company structure now known as Bridgestone Americas Holding, Inc. (BSAH) with several operating subsidiaries.
Those subsidiaries include Bridgestone Firestone North American Tire, LLC (BFNT), the successor to BFS, which includes North American tire manufacturing & wholesale & original equipment sales operations across a broad line of products, including consumer, commercial truck & bus, agricultural, & off-the-road tires. Product development & research related to these businesses are also conducted by BFNT.
BFS Retail & Commercial Operations, LLC (BFRC), consists of a family of company-owned consumer & commercial store chains in the United States & Canada, including Firestone Tire & Service Centers, Expert Tire, Tires Plus, & GCR as well as the company’s credit card operations.
BFS Diversified Products, LLC (BFDP) consists of the company’s non-tire operations in the Americas including the building products, industrial products, synthetic & natural rubber, & fibers & textile businesses.
Bridgestone Metalpha (BMU) is the company’s steel cord manufacturing facility.
Bridgestone Industrial Products America, Inc. sells & markets industrial products such as rubber inflatable dams, rubber tracks, conveyor belts, hydraulic hoses & marine fenders, in North American & Latin America.
BSAH has international manufacturing & sales subsidiaries located in Canada, Columbia, Mexico, Costa Rica, Venezuela, Argentina, Chile & Brazil, with sales representation throughout Latin America & the Carribbean.