Bridgestone Americas’ corporate family (BSA) traces its roots to the establishment of The Firestone Tire & Rubber Company in August 1900. It was then that 31-year-old Harvey S. Firestone (1868-1938) started tire production with 12 employees in Akron, Ohio.
On the other side of the globe in 1931, Shojiro Ishibashi (1885-1976) created Bridgestone Tire Company Ltd. (later renamed Bridgestone Corporation). He fashioned the company name by reversing the English translation of his own: “Ishibashi,” which literally means “stone bridge” in Japanese.
Bridgestone Corporation purchased Firestone in 1988 for $2.6 billion, transforming the companies’ combined operations into the world’s largest tire and rubber company. The operations in the Americas were renamed Bridgestone/Firestone, Inc. (BFS) and became the largest subsidiary of Bridgestone. As part of its integration with Bridgestone’s existing U.S. operations, Bridgestone/Firestone moved its headquarters from Akron to Nashville in 1992.
In an effort to enhance its core business units and to address its customers’ needs and wants, the company today does business in the Americas under a holding company structure in which Bridgestone Americas, Inc. (BSAM) owns several operating units and subsidiaries, which includes building and industrial products, natural rubber, and industrial fibers and textiles businesses, as well as the tire businesses.
Bridgestone Americas Tire Operations, LLC is part of a larger business unit also known as Bridgestone Americas Tire Operations (BATO). Reporting into this business unit are the company’s Latin American tire operations, the U.S. and Canadian consumer tire businesses and the U.S. and Canadian commercial tire businesses. These businesses include tire manufacturing and wholesale and original equipment sales operations across a broad line of products, including consumer, commercial truck and bus, agricultural, and off road tires. Product development and research related to these businesses are also conducted by BATO. BATO sells tires for passenger, light truck, truck, bus, off road, motorcycle, agricultural and kart applications through a variety of different outlets, including independent dealers, discount retailers, warehouse clubs and stores owned by Bridgestone Retail Operations, LLC (BSRO). In addition, through Bridgestone Commercial Solutions, retreading customers have access to industry-leading research and development, manufacturing, marketing and sales expertise, providing them with a total tire solution.
Bridgestone Retail Operations, LLC (BSRO), consists of a family of more than 2,200 company-owned vehicle service and tire locations across the United States, including Firestone Complete Auto Care™, Tires Plus™, ExpertTire™ and Wheel Works™ store locations. Firestone Complete Fleet Care™ operations are also part of BSRO.
BSAM has international manufacturing and sales subsidiaries located in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Mexico, and Venezuela, with additional sales representation throughout Latin America and the Caribbean. The Latin American Tire division is part of BATO, and the companies that are part of the Latin American Tire division are direct subsidiaries of BSAM. BSAM also has a manufacturing facility and sales subsidiary in Canada.
Firestone Natural Rubber Company, LLC, parent of Firestone Liberia, traces its origins back to 1926 when The Firestone Tire & Rubber Company first established a natural rubber production facility in Liberia, West Africa. The company operates a 118,000-acre rubber growing and processing facility and employs more than 6,500 employees who harvest and process natural rubber and latex. After processing, the natural rubber (block rubber and liquid latex) is shipped to the United States. The block rubber is used by Bridgestone Americas tire plants in the manufacture of tires. The latex is sold to third party North American manufacturers of dipped goods, adhesives and carpet backing. In 2008, this business began production of environmentally-friendly Hevea wood, recovered from end-of-lifecycle rubber trees, for use in furniture, flooring, and other value-added applications.
Headquartered in Kings Mountain, N.C., Firestone Fibers and Textiles, LLC has a total of three locations in the U.S. and Canada. FSFT’s employees manufacture nylon, polyester, rayon and fiberglass tire cord for Bridgestone Americas tire plants and other non-tire product manufacturers, along with other industrial fabrics, nylon 6 yarns and resins. A number of these products are for military applications and include such unique products as aircraft fuel cells, large capacity pillow tanks and the heavy industrial fabric used to reinforce the shielding skirts on the Landing Craft Air Cushion (LCAC). Other non-military products include reinforcement fabrics for conveyor belts, pump and air brake diaphragms, air suspension systems, drive belts, gaskets and various coated fabrics. FSFT also produces all the weft insertion reinforcement materials used in Firestone EPDM and TPO roofing systems.
Today, Bridgestone Americas consists of an international family of enterprises with more than 50 production facilities and more than 43,000 employees throughout the Americas.
A Technological Leader
The Bridgestone family of companies, which include Bridgestone Americas, is a world leader in tire and related technologies. The collective entities utilize the tri-polar research and development centers in Tokyo, Akron and Rome to produce advanced tire technologies for products that meet consumers’ needs. This continuing investment in research and development has resulted in new products incorporating the latest technology, like winter tire, better fuel economy and Run-Flat technology, for better, safer products. In addition, Bridgestone Americas operates world-class proving grounds in Ft. Stockton, Texas; São Pedro, Brazil; and Acuña, Mexico.
In many cases, the race track is the company’s test center. Bridgestone companies’ participation in MotoGP and IndyCar Series racing benefits their technology as well. From the race track, to the interstate, to the street where people live, the knowledge gained in developing their race tires makes everyone a winner.Quality Products
Tires are the largest part of Bridgestone Americas’ business, accounting for approximately 80 percent of annual revenues. BATO develops, manufactures and markets tires for almost every kind of vehicle. In fact, the company sells more than 8,000 different types and sizes of tires — from a 13-foot-tall giant radial for earthmoving equipment to a kart tire that stands only 10 inches high.
In addition to tires, BSA is also engaged in retreading operations throughout the Western Hemisphere, and is recognized internationally for producing a variety of quality products, including building and industrial materials, natural rubber, and industrial fibers and textiles.
Today, all Bridgestone Americas facilities are certified to internationally recognized environmental system requirements; new facilities are certified within two years of construction or acquisition. All facilities work every day to continuously enhance their operations, resulting in continuous enhancements to the products they manufacture.Community Involvement
Bridgestone Americas is committed to being a good corporate citizen nationally, regionally and especially in the communities where BSA has manufacturing plants, sales facilities, retail locations and offices.
Giving back to the community is the foundation upon which Bridgestone Americas was built. Since 1952, the Bridgestone Americas Trust Fund has contributed millions annually in support of causes that champion children’s issues, education and the environment and conservation. This annual, multi-million dollar effort has provided innumerable benefits. Bridgestone Americas adheres to the Bridgestone Essence, the global Bridgestone group’s corporate philosophy to build not just better products, but better communities.
Guided by its One Team, One Planet message, Bridgestone Americas is dedicated to achieving a positive environmental impact in all of the communities it calls home. This commitment includes efforts such as developing tires with improved fuel economy; manufacturing products and providing services in an environmentally responsible way; and establishing wildlife habitat and education programs; among many other initiatives.
In addition, Bridgestone Americas continues to look for opportunities to educate all drivers, especially new drivers, about driving safety. Its comprehensive driver safety education programs include initiatives such as Teens Drive Smart, Car Care Academies and tiresafety.com.
For more information, please visit www.BridgestoneAmericas.com.