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Firestone

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Firestone
Tire Manufacturer

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Official Site: Firestone.com
Wikipedia: Firestone Tire and Rubber Company

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Founded: 3 August 1900 in Akron, Ohio, USA
Headquarters: 535 Marriott Drive, P.O. Box 140990, Nashville, Tennessee, USA

A tire manufacturer and rubber company founded by Harvey Firestone in 1900. Firestone was sold to Bridgestone in 1988 and currently also operates a chain of tire store and repair shops.

History

The following section is an excerpt from Wikipedia's Firestone Tire and Rubber Company page on 25 September 2016, text available via the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

The Firestone Tire and Rubber Company is a Japanese tire company founded by Harvey Samuel Firestone in 1900 to supply pneumatic tires for wagons, buggies, and other forms of wheeled transportation common in the era. Firestone soon saw the huge potential for marketing tires for automobiles. The company was a pioneer in the mass production of tires. Harvey Firestone had a friendship with Henry Ford. Firestone used this relationship to become the original equipment supplier of Ford Motor Company automobiles, and was also active in the replacement market.

In 1988, the company was sold to the Japanese Bridgestone Corporation.

Firestone was originally based in Akron, Ohio, also the hometown of its archrival, Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company, and another two mid-sized competitors, General Tire and Rubber and BF Goodrich. Founded on August 3, 1900, the company initiated operations with 12 employees. Together, Firestone and Goodyear were the largest suppliers of automotive tires in North America for over 75 years. In 1906 Henry Ford chose Firestone for Model T original equipment tires.

In 1918, Firestone Tire and Rubber Company of Canada was incorporated in Hamilton, Ontario and in 1922, the first Canadian-made tire rolled off the line on September 15. During the '20s, Firestone produced the Oldfield tire, named for racing driver Barney Oldfield.

In 1926, the company opened one of the world's biggest rubber plantations in Liberia, West Africa, spanning more than 1 million acres. 1926 was also the year that the company opened its first Firestone Complete Auto Care store (Firestone Complete Auto Care is a division of Firestone that offers automotive maintenance and repair).

In 1927, Henry Ford and tire maven Harvey Firestone took a trip to Los Angeles to select locations for their new factories. Friends say Ford wanted to be near the ocean and picked Long Beach and suggested Firestone go to South Gate, California. The tiny community southeast of Downtown was mostly agriculture at the time and Firestone found 40 acres of beanfield to house his new manufacturing plant. Architects Curlett and Beelman created a spectacular four-story Italianate complex, with its own power plant and gorgeous polychrome murals by Gladding McBean depicting the tire and rubber-making process. A year after the plant opened in 1928 it doubled in size. By 1954, when they added the Corporal guided missile to their offerings, the plant was nearly a million square feet. The town grew around Firestone, they named the main boulevard through town after Harvey, and Los Angeles became the number one tire market in the country. By the mid-70’s Ford and GM had massive layoffs as Firestone and other manufacturers opened new plants in non-union locales like Wilson, North Carolina. After much downsizing the end came in 1980 when 1,300 workers were laid off and the plant closed. East Los Angeles College has proposed a new satellite campus at the site.

In 1928 the company built a factory in Brentford, England, a longtime Art Deco landmark on a major route into the city. This closed in 1979.

In 1936 the company opened a plant in Memphis, Tennessee. With a work force exceeding 3,000 employees, the Memphis plant was the largest tire manufacturer in the company’s worldwide operation. On July 1, 1963, the company celebrated the production of 100 million tires in Memphis. The plant was closed in 1982.

During World War II the company was called on by the U.S. Government to make artillery shells, aluminum kegs for food transport and rubberized military products. Firestone ranked 55th among United States corporations in the value of World War II military production contracts. In the 1940s, Firestone was given a defense contract to produce plastic helmet liners. While outproduced by Westinghouse Electric they still made a fair amount for the M1 Helmet.

In 1951, Firestone was given the defense contract for the MGM-5 Corporal missile. Firestone was given a total of US$6,888,796 for the first 200 Missiles. This missile was known as the "Embryo of the Army" and was a surface-to-surface guided missile which could deliver a high-explosive warhead up to 75 nautical miles (139 km). It was later modified to be able to carry a nuclear payload for use in the event of Cold War hostilities in Eastern Europe. This missile was replaced in 1962 by the MGM-29 Sergeant system.

In 1961, Firestone acquired the Dayton Tire division from the Dayco Corporation.

Restructuring and sale to Bridgestone

In late 1979, Firestone brought in John Nevin, the ex-head of Zenith Electronics, as president to save the hemorrhaging company from total collapse. It was more than a billion dollars in debt at the time, and losing 250 million dollars a year. Nevin closed nine of the company's seventeen manufacturing plants, including six in one day. He moved the company from its ancestral home in Akron to Chicago. He spun off non-tire related businesses, including the Firestone Country Club. It was considered a deliberate plan to boost the stock price, and it paid off. In 1988 after discussions with Pirelli, Nevin negotiated the sale of the company to the Japanese company Bridgestone. Bridgestone Corporation Japan was able to buy the company for much less than it had been worth a decade and a half earlier. The combined Bridgestone / Firestone North American operations are now based in Nashville, Tennessee. In 2008 the companies celebrated a 20-year anniversary of the merger, and changed the tire division name to Bridgestone Americas Tire Operations, LLC. In 2012, Bridgestone Americas opened a $100 million technical center in Akron.

Apart from tires, several companies and divisions operate with the Firestone brand in its name. These companies include Firestone Building Products, LLC, Firestone Industrial Products, LLC, Firestone Complete Auto Care, Firestone Natural Rubber Company and Firestone Specialty Products. Firestone Building Products and Firestone Industrial Products are headquartered in Indianapolis, Indiana and operate in 23 U.S. states and ten countries, with 11,000 employees worldwide. The company reports annual sales of more than $2.5 billion.

In 1972 Firestone received a ten-year import "concession" by the Kenyan government to secure Firestone's investment in a domestic tire plant, which gave it a virtual monopoly. This included both general price and foreign exchange controls. When the ten-year period came to an end in 1979, Firestone retaliated by increasing production, making entry less attractive. Headquarters eventually canceled expansion and failed negotiations lead to no further investments.


Multimedia

DateMedia or Collection Name & DetailsFiles
1943All Out for Victory
Firestone Tire & Rubber Company

Video Page
- 550MB - 20:16
5 April 2007Liberia Begins Reviewing Firestone Agreements
Interview of Samuel Kofi Woods
James Butty for Voice of America News

Article Page
- 3:11


Images

Wow! What a Car 1957 Chrysler 300C Art Wow! What a Car
Artist: Ken Eberts
Car: 1957 Chrysler 300C
Artist's Note: “That kid gazing in amazement through the showroom window is me! It portrays childhood memories of riding my bike to collect brochures at new car dealerships along Jerome Avenue in The Bronx, New York, where I lived at the time.”
Image courtesy CarArt.us
View "Wow! What a Car" - 1957 Chrysler 300C Art - 76KB
Firestone 1965 Indianapolis 500 Advertisement 1965 Indianapolis 500 Advertisement
Motor Trend
August 1965
View photo of Firestone 1965 Indianapolis 500 Advertisement - 3,203KB


Documents

DateDocument Name & DetailsDocuments
1960Tires, Tubes and Rims for Antique Cars
The Firestone Tire and Rubber Co.
PNG - 79.7MB - 8 pages
6 September 2000The Recent Firestone Tire Recall Action, Focusing on the Action as it Pertains to Relevant Ford Vehicles
Hearings before the Subcommittee on Telecommunications, Trade, and Consumer Protection and the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations of the Committee on Commerce - United States House of Representatives

PDF
- 30,771KB - 1,416 pages
12 September 2000Firestone Tire Recall
Hearing before the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation - United States Senate

PDF
- 14,986KB - 117 pages
21 September 2000The Recent Firestone Tire Recall Action, Focusing on the Action as it Pertains to Relevant Ford Vehicles
Hearings before the Subcommittee on Telecommunications, Trade, and Consumer Protection and the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations of the Committee on Commerce - United States House of Representatives

PDF
- 30,771KB - 1,416 pages
19 June 2001Ford Motor Company's Recall of Certain Firestone Tires:  Joint Hearing before the Subcommittees on Commerce, Trade, and Consumer Protection and Oversight and Investigations of the Committee on Energy and CommerceU.S. House of Representatives
PDF
- 71,220KB - 2,071 pages


Article Index

DateArticleAuthor/Source
6 September 2000Statement by U.S. Transportation Secretary Slater on Bridgestone/Firestone RecallU.S. Department of Transportation
12 September 2000Statement of U.S. Secretary of Transportation Rodney E. Slater Concerning The Senate Commerce Committee Hearings on the Bridgestone/Firestone RecallU.S. Department of Transportation
24 July 2001Replacement Tire Report Sent to House CommitteeNHTSA
4 October 2001NHTSA Announces Initial Decision That Additional Firestone Wilderness AT Tires Have a Safety Defect; Firestone Agrees to Recall Those TiresNHTSA
12 February 2002NHTSA Denies Firestone Request For Ford Explorer InvestigationNHTSA
21 July 2006Consumer Advisory: Follow-up Notification on Firestone Tire RecallNHTSA
5 April 2007Liberia Begins Reviewing Firestone Agreements James Butty
26 September 2014Carpenter Tests 2 Days at IMS for Firestone, 1st Time CFH Racing Together Tom Blattler




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