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Ford, Bridgestone/Firestone partnership may end in May

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Bridgestone/Firestone (BFS) and Ford Motor Co. are still talking, but as of now their more than 100-year-old partnership will end in May.

BFS continues to provide Ford with "a few" original equipment tires, according to John Lampe, chairman, CEO and president of Bridgestone/Firestone Americas Holding Inc.

Speaking at the North Carolina Tire Dealers and Retreaders Association convention in Myrtle Beach, S.C., Lampe said the company's OE contracts with Ford ended last November.

However, BFS agreed to extend the delivery period of Firestone-brand tires to help Ford out when it had trouble getting enough tires for its Ford Rangers and Econoline vans.

Lampe said BFS officially will stop supplying tires to Ford in May, although it is possible that the relationship will be rekindled.

"It is true we are talking with Ford," he said, revealing he has met with Nick Scheele, COO & president of Ford Automotive Operations, a couple of times and has confidence in him.

"Does that mean things are patched up and we're going to do business with Ford again? No, it does not."

Lampe said a good business relationship "is kind of like a marriage," with a need for trust, confidence and respect. Initially, BFS told Ford it was ending their "marriage" on May 21, 2001, because the relationship's foundation lacked those qualities.

In 2001, BFS accounted for 28% of Ford's OE light vehicle tires, according to Modern Tire Dealer's 2002 Facts Issue. That figure was down from 43% the previous year.

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