Firestone

Bridgestone Americas’ corporate family traces its roots to two distinguished companies— The Firestone Tire & Rubber Company, which Harvey Firestone formed in Akron, Ohio in August 1900, and the Bridgestone Tire Company Ltd. which Shojiro Ishibashi started in Japan in 1931.

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. 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.

Today, this subsidiary, now named Bridgestone Americas (BSAM), consists of an international family of enterprises with 52 production facilities and more than 50,000 employees throughout the Americas.

BSAM and its subsidiaries develop, manufacture and market a wide range of Bridgestone, Firestone and associate brand tires to address the needs of a broad range of customers, including consumers, automotive and commercial vehicle original equipment manufacturers, and those in the agricultural, forestry and mining industries. The companies are also engaged in retreading operations throughout the Western Hemisphere and produce air springs, roofing materials, and industrial fibers and textiles. The BSAM family of companies also operates the world’s largest chain of automotive tire and service centers.

Firestone History

Harvey S. Firestone was one of three men who epitomized the spirit of a nation awakening to its potential and who changed America. Firestone, along with friends Henry Ford and Thomas Edison, took annual camping trips where ideas were shared to pull the world out of its horse-and-buggy pace and thrust it into an era of speed.

As the new century arrived, Firestone was convinced automobiles were the future. In 1900, he moved to Akron, Ohio, which was soon to become the rubber capital of the world, and began manufacturing his own tires in a small old foundry. In just six years, sales of Firestone tires surpassed $1 million.

As the demand for tires grew, Firestone set the pace with innovations that included the pneumatic tire, an improvement over the difficult-to-mount clinchers then in use; the demountable rim, which for the first time made it easy for drivers to change their own tires; the first angular non-skid tread, which made automobiles easier to control; the gum-dipping process, which guarded against heat build-up; and the first successful set of low-pressure balloon tires that allowed cars to travel at faster speeds with greater safety and comfort.

In 1911, the first Indy 500® was held and Firestone tires were on the winning car. Since then, Firestone-equipped racers have maintained a strong presence in the Sunday races. From 1920 through 1966, every winner at the Indy 500® had one thing in common – Firestone tires.

Firestone became a household name as the company continued to grow and make its mark on the country. People began shopping at Firestone one-stop service centers that sold not only tires, but car service and batteries. Within 13 years of opening the first store, the Firestone network of stores grew to 575 and offered 2,200 different items. In homes across America, people tuned in each week to hear the “Voice of Firestone” radio program that started in 1928 and ran for the next 36 years. And, Americans followed the footsteps of Harvey Firestone as he championed the drive to improve the infrastructure of the country with modern highways and better roads.

As the century began to draw to a close, the company, which had long held a strong international presence, began looking for an international partner to help it compete more effectively on a global scale. In 1988, the Bridgestone Corporation of Japan purchased the Firestone Tire and Rubber Company. It was the largest investment ever of a Japanese company in an American company.

The merger created a truly new global company that brought Firestone’s manufacturing capabilities and production operations to Bridgestone. The merger positioned the company to sell tires internationally and leveraged technological advances that included UNI-T®, which improves tire traction on wet surfaces, and UNI-T AQ™, which keeps performance at optimum levels even as tires wear.

In 1995, the Firestone name returned to Indy racing after an absence of more than two decades and soon reclaimed some familiar territory – the winner’s circle.

Fifteen years after the two companies merged, Bridgestone Americas has entered the new century just as it began – with fire: to continually innovate, to offer the best, to win the race and to make the lives of people safer and easier. Harvey S. Firestone would have been proud.