By Will Fifield
BRIDGESTONE IS A tire-industry giant,
with roots that stretch back more than 100
years. It combines two iconic companies that
led the industry on two continents: Firestone,
founded by Harvey Firestone in Akron, Ohio,
in 1900, and Bridgestone, established by
Shojiro Ishibashi (whose last name means
“stone bridge” in Japanese) in 1931 in Japan.
Tricks of the tread
“Tires are one of the most important
safety features on a vehicle,” says Bridgestone
Americas’ CEO and president Gary A.
Garfield. “How a tire is engineered—from the
compounds to the construction of the tire—
plays a big role in how that tire performs.” He
says the company has always put an extraordinary amount of resources into making the
best tires in the world.
In 1922, for example, Firestone offered
the industry’s first low-pressure balloon tire.
This was made possible by incorporating a
gum-dipping process, invented in early 1920,
that insulated tire cords against internal heat.
Balloon tires offered the average motorist
extraordinary mileage for the time.
More recently, Bridgestone’s Blizzak winter tire line transformed tire traction and
safety in inclement driving conditions. “When
we introduced our first-generation Blizzak
winter tire [in 1988], most winter tires were
studded to ensure grip in the ice and snow,”
Garfield explains. “Using specially formulated
tire compounds allowed our Blizzak winter
tires to remain pliable in extreme winter conditions, conform to the road and deliver optimum grip without studs.”
Beyond developing top-notch tires,
Bridgestone has long operated with an eye
toward helping the communities it serves. in
1952 the company established the Bridgestone
Americas Trust Fund, which now supports
more than 300 charities and civic organizations across the U.S. that are dedicated to
improving education and youth development.
In the past five years, the company has
donated more than $12 million through this
fund. It has also made long-term commitments to support youth development programs near its company headquarters in
Bridgestone is committed to developing
green and sustainable operating practices as
well. “We have a responsibility to produce
products in the most sustainable ways,”
Garfield says, noting the company’s long-term environmental vision to build products
made from fully renewable and sustainable
materials by the year 2050.
Bridgestone has reached a goal of zero
waste to landfills at three of its manufacturing facilities.
“Since its founding, Bridgestone’s mission
has been to ‘serve society with superior quality,’ ” Garfield says. “That ideal is truer today
than ever before, as we are laser-focused on
delivering quality products and services that
exceed the expectations of those who buy and
rely on our brands.” C
Bridgestone contributes to the Music Makes Us
initiative, which provides music education programs for students in Nashville public schools.
Bridgestone founders Harvey Firestone (left),
circa 1900, and Shojiro Ishibashi, circa 1930.
a tire company
Company: Bridgestone Corporation
Founders: Shojiro Ishibashi and Harvey Firestone
Number of employees: 145,000 globally; 55,000
in the Americas
Phone number: 1-800-543-7522
Products at Costco: A complete line of tires for
every need at Costco Tire Centers
Address: Bridgestone Americas Inc.
535 Marriott Drive, Nashville, TN 37214
Comments about Costco: “We greatly value our
relationship with Costco and serving Costco’s
members. Costco is committed to delivering
the highest-quality products at incredible value,
and we are proud that Bridgestone tires are part
of that product offering. We are committed to
offering innovative products that meet the needs
of today’s drivers, whether they’re looking for
added safety, fuel economy, ride comfort or all
of the above.”—Gary Garfield, Bridgestone
president and CEO
OUR DIGITAL EDITIONS
Click here to see how and why Bridgestone recommends you check your tire
pressure. (See page 11 for details.)
Best in the East, and West
Ishibashi, a visionary, entered the tire
business in anticipation of the mass arrival
of automobiles in his country. Meanwhile, in
the U.S., Firestone flourished. The company’s motto, “Better today, still better tomorrow,” guided every product and activity the
company pursued, including becoming a
supplier for Ford in 1906.
In 1988, Bridgestone acquired Firestone,
making it one of the world’s largest tire companies. While they were on opposite sides of
the world, Firestone and Bridgestone developed innovations that made them industry
leaders. Their combined strength makes
Bridgestone a force to be reckoned with.