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BFNT's Emkes: 'Expect growth in 2003'

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"In 2003, we expect consolidated group sales to increase slightly," Bridgestone/Firestone North American Tire LLC Chairman, CEO and President Mark Emkes told dealers at the company's BizCon meeting in Las Vegas, Nev.

The prediction is "cautiously optimistic but ultimately realistic," says Emkes, given challenging market conditions and continued trucking company closings.

"To make progress and money today requires a progressive business structure," he told dealers.

"We must continue to lower our operating costs. And we will continue to make industry-leading investments" in technology and product quality.

BFNT parent company Bridgestone Corp.'s net sales totaled $18 billion last year, a 5% increase over 2001.

Subsidiary Bridgestone Americas Holding Inc.'s net profit reached the $83 million mark on sales of $7.6 billion during 2002.

"During 2002, we turned the corner towards recovery," Emkes says.

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