Bridgestone celebrates 20th anniversary of Firestone purchase

July 29, 2008

Twenty years ago Bridgestone Corp. purchased The Firestone Tire & Rubber Co. for $2.6 billion, propelling Bridgestone into the position of the world's largest tire and rubber company.

More than 1,600 teammates and family members were expected to join Bridgestone Americas Holding Inc. Chairman and CEO Mark Emkes and state and local dignitaries in Akron, Ohio, to celebrate the anniversary.

“This celebration of ‘A Team For 20 Years’ is a chance to reflect on our accomplishments together and to set our sights on continuous improvement and growth for the future,” said Emkes.

“We are one team with one goal: to continue to build on the success of the past 20 years through our two strong brands and our ongoing investment in technology that fosters a culture of innovation and quality. And we will continue the traditions established by our two founders -- Shojiro Ishibashi and Harvey Firestone -- to give back to the communities we call home. When it comes to the alliance of the Bridgestone and Firestone brands, the best is yet to come.”

Emkes spoke in the shadow of the statue of Firestone founder Harvey Firestone on the lawn of the Bridgestone Americas Center for Research & Technology in Akron, the birthplace of The Firestone Tire and Rubber Co. Ohio Lt. Gov. Lee Fisher, Akron Mayor Donald Plusquellic and Summit County Executive Russ Pry joined other local leaders at the celebration.

During the event, Emkes highlighted a series of “A Team for 20 Years” stories that will be featured in newspaper ads in several communities where Bridgestone Americas has offices and manufacturing facilities. The series will commemorate 20 years of accomplishments, including:

* return to dominance in American open-wheel racing;

* breakthroughs in tire technology, such as Blizzak winter tire technology;

* creating a culture of giving back to the communities it calls home, as evidenced by programs and activities such as its donation of 10,000 acres of wilderness land to the state of Tennessee;

* and industry leadership in driver safety education and environmental performance through innovative initiatives such as Driver’s Edge and the creation of wildlife habitats at its plant sites.

Bridgestone Americas traces its roots to the establishment of Firestone Tire & Rubber Co. in August 1900. It was then that 31-year-old Harvey S. Firestone (1868-1938) started tire production with 12 employees in Akron.

On the other side of the globe in 1931, Shojiro Ishibashi (1885-1976) created Bridgestone Tire Co. Ltd. (later renamed Bridgestone Corp.). He fashioned the company name by reversing the English translation of his own: “Ishibashi,” which literally means “stone bridge” in Japanese.

"The Bridgestone brand is a dynamic, sophisticated and innovative premium brand for drivers who want to get the most out of their cars,” Emkes said. “Firestone is a brand built on a century of proven quality and value with a tradition of innovation. We will continue to go to market with these two powerful brands and to build on the strength of each.”