Gary Garfield, the executive chairman, CEO, and president of Bridgestone Americas Inc. is retiring at the end of 2016, and the company has named a new leadership team to replace him.
Gordon Knapp, the company's chief operating officer, will become Bridgestone Americas' CEO and president on Sept. 1, 2016. William "Bill" Thompson, the current chief financial officer, will succeed Knapp as chief operating officer on that same date.
Garfield, who has spent 25 years with the tire maker, will remain as an advisor to the company and the new leadership team until year-end. Garfield also will retire from his position as executive vice president and executive officer of Bridgestone Americas' parent company, Bridgestone Corp., effective Aug. 31.
Masaaki Tsuya, Bridgestone Corp.'s CEO, a representative board member and chairman of the board, expressed appreciation and gratitude to Garfield for his service and agreement to the company's request that he serve in an advisory role through the end of the year to support Bridgestone Americas and help ensure a seamless leadership transition.
"On behalf of the Bridgestone Group, including the more than 50,000 teammates in the Americas, I would like to express our sincerest thanks to Gary for his 25 years of exceptional service to the company," says Tsuya. "Under Gary's dedicated leadership, Bridgestone Americas achieved six straight years of record business results, and he has led positive culture changes through the organization. His commitment to the company, our people and our customers is unequaled, and I know he will be missed."
Here's what Garfield says about his time with the tire manufacturer:
"Leading Bridgestone Americas for the last six and a half years has been the capstone of my career. I'm so proud of the company's performance, but I believe my greatest legacy is establishing the foundation for a culture centered on true, open dialogue and innovation. We have built an incredibly strong team at Bridgestone Americas, and I am confident that the company is in extremely good hands with the high-caliber leadership that Gordon and Bill will provide. It has been my great privilege and honor to lead and work with the Bridgestone Americas team. However, there are still some avenues I'd like to explore, both personally and professionally, and leaving now gives me time to pursue those opportunities."
Garfield says he and his wife plan to remain in Nashville, and they look forward to spending more time with their two new grandchildren.
Garfield initially joined Bridgestone in the legal department in 1991, eventually rising to the position of vice president, general counsel, chief compliance officer and secretary of Bridgestone Americas. In March 2010, he was promoted to Bridgestone Americas' CEO and president, and in January 2016 he was named as executive chairman of Bridgestone Americas.
Over the last years, he also was promoted to a series of executive positions within Bridgestone Corp., ultimately culminating in the position of executive officer and executive vice president.
The new leaders
In describing the decision to select Knapp to lead Bridgestone Americas, Tsuya says, "Gordon brings a tremendous wealth of corporate experience and demonstrated success to this new leadership role. He's worked in consumer products his entire professional career, leading the operations of some of the world's leading brands and has been with us for three years in roles of increasing responsibility. He is clearly ready to step into this new leadership role."
Knapp has spent his career – both in the U.S. and internationally – in the consumer products area leading the operations of many of the world's foremost brands. Prior to Bridgestone, Knapp served in leadership positions with Kimberly-Clark, Pfizer Inc., and Warner-Lambert Inc.
Knapp's leadership team will include Thompson as chief operating officer. Tsuya says, "Bill has been with Bridgestone Americas for 20 years. He has worked across the company and has a keen financial understanding of every aspect of our company. We're fortunate to have Bill's talent and knowledge as he undertakes the COO responsibilities."
Thompson served as west zone manager for U.S. commercial tire sales in 2011 and was named Bridgestone Americas controller in 2012. Prior to being named chief financial officer in May 2014, he served as vice president of finance for Bridgestone Americas. He has broad experience within the company, having held positions in the retail, manufacturing, sales and corporate groups. He joined the company in 1996.
Eduardo Minardi, executive chairman at Bridgestone Americas' sister company, Bridgestone Europe, Middle East, Africa (BSEMEA), will serve concurrently as chairman of the Bridgestone Americas board of directors. He will maintain his current role in Brussels, Belgium, which he assumed approximately two and half years ago. He also currently serves as an executive officer and executive vice president of Bridgestone Corp. as well as on the Bridgestone Americas board of directors, a position he has held for more than six years. Minardi's previous work for Bridgestone Americas has spanned 27 years and included roles with increasing responsibility across Latin America prior to appointment as Bridgestone Americas' chief operating officer in 2010.
Bridgestone says other organizational announcements are expected to be made over the next few weeks and a search will be conducted to fill the role of chief financial officer.