Bridgestone Americas Tire Operations, LLC, a subsidiary of Bridgestone Americas, Inc. (BSAM), is part of a larger business unit also known as Bridgestone Americas Tire Operations (BATO). Reporting into this business unit are the company’s Latin American tire operations; the U.S. and Canadian consumer tire businesses; the U.S. and Canadian commercial tire businesses; and Bridgestone Retail Operations, LLC, which operates the largest network of company-owned automotive service providers in the world.
BATO traces its roots to The Firestone Tire & Rubber Company, which was founded in August 1900. That was when 31-year-old Harvey S. Firestone (1868-1938) began tire production with 12 employees in Akron, Ohio, while marketing solid rubber tires for carriage wheels. A few years later, Firestone tires were selected by Henry Ford for the first mass-produced automobiles in America. The company was one of the first advocates of an interstate highway system, supporting its creation as early as 1916. It launched the “Ship by Truck” campaign, which encouraged manufacturers to move their products to market by truck. In fact, the very first coast-to-coast truck shipment of goods traveled on Firestone tires. By the 1920s, Firestone had become a world leader in tires.
On the other side of the globe, in 1931, Shojiro Ishibashi (1885-1976) created Bridgestone Tire Company Ltd. (later renamed Bridgestone Corporation). He fashioned the company name by reversing the English translation of his own surname: “Ishibashi” literally means “stone bridge” in Japanese. The quality of Bridgestone’s products was soon widely recognized, and the company’s tires were adopted by the three leading automakers in Japan at the time: General Motors, Ford and Chrysler. Bridgestone quickly expanded and diversified into sporting goods and other rubber products. By the 1960s, having won the prestigious Deming Application Prize, the company was poised for rapid international growth along with the growth of the Japanese auto industry. Bridgestone entered the U.S. market in 1967.
Bridgestone purchased Firestone in 1988 for $2.6 billion. Combined with its new subsidiary, Bridgestone/Firestone, Inc. (BFS), Bridgestone Corporation became the world’s largest tire and rubber company. In an effort to enhance its core business units and to address its customers’ needs and wants, Bridgestone/Firestone, Inc. reorganized its operations and today does business in the Americas under a holding company structure in which BSAM owns several operating units and subsidiaries, including BATO.
BATO conducts tire research and develops, manufactures and markets tires for almost everything that moves on wheels. In fact, the company sells more than 8,000 different types and sizes of tires — from a 13-foot-tall giant radial for earthmoving equipment to a kart tire that stands a mere 10 inches high. Offering a wide range of Bridgestone, Firestone and associate brand tires, the company maintains wholesale and original equipment sales operations across a broad line of products, including passenger, light truck, commercial truck and bus, agricultural, motorcycle, kart and off the road tires. In addition, through its Bridgestone Bandag Tire Solutions unit, retreading customers have access to industry-leading research and development, manufacturing, marketing and sales expertise, providing them with a total tire solution.
The BATO companies employ approximately 24,000 employees throughout North America. Within the BATO business unit are seven North American tire manufacturing facilities located in Aiken County, S.C.; Akron, Ohio; Bloomington/Normal, Ill.; Des Moines, Iowa; LaVergne, Tenn.; Warren County, Tenn.; and Wilson, N.C. An eighth manufacturing facility in Joliette, Quebec, Canada, is owned and operated by Bridgestone Canada Inc. BATO also includes international manufacturing and sales subsidiaries located in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Mexico and Venezuela, with additional sales representation throughout Latin America and the Caribbean. Although part of the BATO group, the Latin American operations are direct subsidiaries of BSAM.
The U.S. tire company that comprises BATO is the first tire company to have all of its plants ISO 14001 certified, which is the international standard for environmental management systems.
As a premium, technology-driven consumer tire brand, the Bridgestone brand is the choice for many of the world’s most prestigious cars. The company continues its research and development, production, and advertising and marketing in order to introduce new products and new versions of popular current offerings. BATO focuses on the strength of technology in its consumer product developments, and this is emphasized in the brand’s global theme: “Bridgestone: Passion for Excellence,” as well as its branding message in the Americas: “For drivers who want to get the most out of their cars, it’s Bridgestone or nothing.”
Firestone is a legendary brand that traces its roots to Harvey Firestone in 1900. The company continues its commitment to research and development, production, and advertising and marketing to support the Firestone brand. Firestone tires are used as original equipment on a wide range of models produced by some of the world’s leading auto manufacturers. Over the past century, Firestone tires have appeared and won in nearly every form of motorsport competition. The Firestone brand focuses on tradition while striving to provide the most innovative products. This is reflected in its theme: “Firestone: A Tradition of Innovation.”
Bridgestone Bandag Tire Solutions
Bridgestone Bandag Tire Solutions (BBTS), a division of BATO, manufactures, markets and sells medium and heavy duty truck tires for the original equipment and replacement markets in the United States and, in Canada, through Bridgestone Canada Inc. Bridgestone, Firestone and Dayton brand truck tires are available through more than 2,500 dealers and truck stops across the U.S. and Canada. Around the world, top truck fleets and original equipment manufacturers rely on Bridgestone, Firestone and Dayton brand tires for long tread life and low cost per mile. In addition, through its Bandag brand, Bandag retreading dealers have access to industry-leading research and development, manufacturing, marketing and sales expertise. This combination of new and retread product offerings provides trucking customers with total tire solutions.
In the trucking business, where tires are often the second highest non-payroll cost for a business, BATO medium commercial truck tires lead the industry in technical innovation and performance. BATO truck tires are known for extremely long tread life and low cost per mile.
Company Owned Operations
Company Owned Operations, U.S. & Canada Commercial Tire Sales division, BATO, provide commercial customers with services, products, information and programs related to tire management through a network of approximately 310 stores and 39 retread plants throughout the United States and Canada. Company Owned Operations operates Tire Distribution Systems, Inc. (TDS), GCR Tire Centers and White Tire, offering medium commercial truck tires and services. It also manages Speedco, Inc., which is a provider of on- highway truck lubrication and routine tire services to commercial truck owner-operators and fleets; and Truck PM Plus, a full-service truck maintenance and repair business operating with seven locations in Florida.
Off Road Tires
Off Road Tire, U.S. & Canada Commercial Tire Sales division (BAOR), BATO, was formed in February 1994 to market off the road tires used in heavy duty applications for construction, mining, aggregates and industrial operations. Since the inception of the business unit, off the road tire sales revenue has tripled and BAOR market share has grown to nearly 40 percent of the domestic replacement and original equipment markets. Today, BAOR is a significant supplier to most original equipment manufacturers as well as most major global mining and construction companies. BAOR offers the industry’s most comprehensive selection of radial and bias off the road products; a dedicated sales and engineering staff; sales and distribution through 1,000 dealers as well as the company’s commercial outlets; and the proprietary software, TreadStat Tire and Rim Management System.
Agricultural Tire, U.S. & Canada Commercial Tire Sales division (BAAG), BATO, is the industry leader in the manufacturing, marketing and sale of market-leading Firestone brand agricultural tires. BAAG’s Des Moines, Iowa, facility is located in the heart of America’s farm belt and supplies Firestone agricultural tires to half of the North American original equipment market and about 40 percent of the replacement market. BAAG also has approximately 50 percent of the market in harvesting and planting machinery. The BAAG testing facility, located in Columbiana, Ohio, is the only facility in the world solely dedicated to the development and testing of agricultural tires. In addition to agricultural tires, BAAG markets and sells forestry, ATV and construction tires.
Tube Business, U.S. & Canada Commercial Tire Sales division (BATB), BATO, is a global force in the sale and distribution of inner tubes for all applications from small lawn and garden tubes to large farming and forestry tubes. BATB has been located in Russellville, Ark., since October 1964 and is the only manufacturer of inner tubes in the United States and Canada. Currently BATB has more than 30 percent of the global market for inner tubes, clearly positioning BATB as the world leader in the inner tube industry. Along with inner tubes, BATB produces other rubber products used in retreading applications as well as custom mixed rubber used in the manufacturing of tires.
Motorsports and Racing
BATO’s legacy of motorsports accomplishments began more than nine decades ago when Harvey Firestone showcased his tires in the 1909 Indianapolis 300, the brand’s first documented race victory. In 1911, a Firestone-equipped driver won the first Indianapolis 500-Mile Race®. Today, the tradition continues. Firestone brand racing tires have won more Indy 500 races than all other tire brands combined. Further, BATO’s tire brands have appeared in thousands of competitions around the globe, recording a remarkable variety of wins and honors.
Great drivers in Formula One, the IZOD IndyCar® Series, MotoGP and many other forms of racing have relied on tires provided by the global Bridgestone Group of companies to ensure drivers the consistency and durability they need to win.
BATO’s involvement with motorsports provides more than thrills. The motorsport community’s use of Firestone and Bridgestone tires is a testament to the quality of the products the company produces. Through thousands of miles of experience on the race track, the company’s engineers have paved the way for better street tires. BATO adapts the technology developed and tested for racing tires to make higher-performing and longer-lasting consumer tires.
Sales and Marketing
BATO sells tires for passenger, light truck, truck, bus, off the road, agricultural, motorcycle and kart applications through a variety of different outlets, including independent dealers, discount retailers, warehouse clubs and company-owned stores.
BATO’s consumer tire products are distributed through stores owned by Bridgestone Retail Operations, LLC, including Firestone Complete Auto Care™, Tires Plus™, ExpertTire™ and Wheel Works™. Through BATO’s BBTS unit, the commercial industry is served by TDS, GCR Tire Centers and White Tire stores, providing truck tire service and retreading, and agricultural, forestry and flotation tires and service. They also provide off the road customers with tires and service for the mining and construction industries.
To enable the various consumer tire sales and marketing channels to operate efficiently, BATO has developed a Family Channel program, which comprises more than 4,700 retail points of sale, including BSRO company-owned stores and independent retail outlets. To assist these retailers, the company develops dedicated products for them and provides educational and promotional support. More than 90 percent of BATO’s consumer replacement business is conducted through the Family Channel.
In Latin America, BATO, has the largest number of points of sale of any tire manufacturer in the region with nearly 2,200 locations.
For more information, please visit www.BridgestoneAmericas.com.