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 ( ) is a multinational rubber conglomerate founded in 1931 by   in the city of Kurume, Fukuokamarker, Japan. The name Bridgestone comes from a calque translation and transposition of ishibashi, meaning "stone bridge" in Japanese.


Bridgestone is currently ranked largest tire manufacturer in the global tire market, with Michelin second, Goodyear third, and Continental fourth as of January 2009.As of the end of 2005, production facilities belonging to the Bridgestone Group have increased to 141 spread throughout twenty-four nations of the world. In order to attain this level of globalization, the company established a new set of corporate policies in the year 2001. In continuation of this, company's Brand Vision was also established in 2003.

History

Origins

Head office in Tokyo.
The very first Bridgestone tire was produced on April 9, 1930, by the Japanese "Tabi" Socks Tire Division (actually made jika-tabi). One year later on March 1, 1931, the founder, Shojiro Ishibashi, made the "Tabi" Socks tire Division independent and established the Bridgestone Tire Co., Ltd. in the city of Kurume, Fukuoka Prefecture. "Bridgestone" was named after the name of the founder, Shojiro Ishibashi (Ishi = Stone, Bashi = Bridge).

Foregoing dependence on European and North America technology, the Bridgestone tire Co., Ltd. set its eyes on manufacturing tires based solely on Japanese technology. The foundling company experienced many difficulties in the areas of technology, production and sales in the early days. Eventually, improvements were achieved in quality and manufacturing processes which led to the business rapidly expanding on both the domestic and overseas markets.

Challenges during and after World War II

Wartime regulations were in effect throughout the whole of Japan, and tires also came under the jurisdiction of these regulations. This resulted in nearly all of the company's output being used to satisfy military demand. 1945 saw the end of armed conflict, but the company was devastated by the war. The Tokyomarker Headquarters building was destroyed during an aerial bombing raid, and all overseas assets were lost. Fortunately, the plants in Kurume and Yokohama escaped unscathed, and production was able to recommence immediately after the war ended. Brushing aside the problems caused by a labour union strike that lasted for forty-six days, the foundations of the company were further reinforced after this.

After World War II Bridgestone started manufacturing motorcycles, but its main income was from supplying tires to its rival motorcycle makers such as Honda, Suzuki and Yamaha and it was later decided to cease motorcycle manufacturing.

Technological innovation

Cross Section of a tire
In 1951, Bridgestone was the first company in Japan to begin selling rayon cord tires, and a five-year project to modernize production facilities was started. This year also saw another Bridgestone building opened in Kyōbashi, Tokyo, which contained the Bridgestone Museum. Sales surpassed ten billion yen in 1953, placing Bridgestone at the top of tire industry in Japan, and celebrations were held to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the company's foundation in Kurume.

The sale of nylon tires was started in 1959, and work forged ahead with the construction of the new Tokyo plant, which was opened in 1960, in order to cope with the fast-expanding market for motorization.

Radial tires and overseas expansion

The company issued shares and was listed on the stock exchange in 1961, and moved across to a new system of administration with Shojiro Ishibashi as the chairman, and Kanichiro Ishibashi as the president. As part of the transition across to administrative reform, the Deming Plan in honour of W. Edwards Deming, which involves overall quality control activities, was adopted, and the company was awarded the prestigious Deming Prize in 1968. Also, additions were built onto the Tokyo plant in 1962 to house the new Technical Centre, and a progressive system of research and development was established. On the product front, 1967 saw the sale of first ever radial tire, the RD10.

Bridgestone's first overseas plant since the end of the war was opened in Singapore in 1965, and production was also commenced in Thailand in 1969. The 1960s for Bridgestone was an era of overseas expansion that also included the establishment of Bridgestone America in the United States in 1967 to act as Bridgestone's USA representative sales branch.

A Radial Tire
At the start of the period of Japan's economic stagnation, brought about by the first oil shock, the company was placing even more emphasis on establishing its own technology for the manufacture of radial tires, and it was also at this time that further domestic plants were constructed and fitted out. Its Super Filler Radial was placed on the market in 1978, and in 1979 the company introduced the high-performance POTENZA radial tire, which gets its name from the Italian word potenza which means power.

The company was actively engaged in overseas expansion activities at this time, and in addition to starting up production in Indonesia and Iran in 1976, it was also invested in a Taiwanmarker tire manufacturer and purchased a tire plant and a plant for diversified products in Australia in 1980. The founder, Shojiro Ishibashi, died on September 11, 1976.

On March 1, 1981, the company celebrated its 50th anniversary since its foundation. At the same time, the company initiated activities to strengthen its home base that supported overseas expansion strategy with the aim of being ranked as one of the world's top three manufacturers of rubber products. New production facilities were also established in Thailandmarker, Indiamarker, Polandmarker, Chinamarker, the United Statesmarker and other countries. The company changed the name from Bridgestone Tire Co., Ltd. to Bridgestone Corporation in 1984.

Firestone purchase

In 1988, Bridgestone purchased the Firestone Tire and Rubber Company. Placing considerable financial and personnel resources into rebuilding Firestone after the purchase, Bridgestone achieved surplus annual profits for the year 1992 with BFE (Bridgestone Firestone Europe) and again in 1993 with BFS (Bridgestone Firestone USA). The Firestone Tire and Rubber Company and Bridgestone Tire Company Ltd USA were amalgamated in 1990 and became "Bridgestone Firestone North American Holdings Ltd". In order to increase the Firestone subsidiary's brand awareness, Bridgestone Firestone NAH Ltd, re-entered the Firestone brand into IndyCar racing in 1995, and in 1997 Bridgestone Corporation Japan entered the Bridgestone brand into F1 racing.

Bridgestone's global locations

Bridgestone has major manufacturing plants in many countries around the world. As of 2007, Bridgestone has 57 tire plants, 98 diversified product plants, and 4 major technical centers globally. Some of the major plants are located in:

EUROPE AMERICAS ASIA/OCEANIA MIDDLE EAST/AFRICA
Italy North America Japan Iran
Hungary Argentina Australia
Poland Brazil New Zealand South Africa
Spain Costa Rica China Liberia (raw materials)
France Puerto Rico India
Belgium Mexico Indonesia
Turkey Venezuela South Korea
Chile Taiwan
Canada Thailand
United States Malaysia
Bangladesh


Australia

Bridgestone Australia began as the SA Rubber Mills in 1939. In 1980 Bridgestone took over the Australian plants which were at that time operated by the Uniroyal Tire Company. Bridgestone Australia has three major manufacturing plants in Australia: a tire factory located in Salisbury, South Australiamarker (slated to close by April 2010); an Automotive Components Division located at Edwardstown, South Australiamarker (operated under the BSTG company name which is a joint venture with Toyoda Gosei); and the third plant in Dandenong, Victoriamarker. The Dandenong plant is a manufacturer of Bridgestone Brand (Airstep) Carpet Underlay. Bridgestone has State Offices in all states of Australia, and has a large number of retail outlets across the country.

In 2002 Bridgestone Australia Ltd purchased the BANDAG Retreading plant and its operations in Australia. Bandag Manufacturing Pty Limited has 35 franchised Bandag dealers across Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, Papua New Guinea and Nouméa.

Bandag Manufacturing Pty Limited is a wholly owned subsidiary of Bridgestone Australia Limited, and operates under license to Bandag Incorporated. In 2006 Bridgestone purchased Bandag Incorporated, which is now a subsidiary of Bridgestone Corporation.

From the purchase in 1981, The Australian operations of Bridgestone have been run as a publicly listed company on the Australian Stock exchange. Bridgestone Corporation has maintained a majority share holding. As of mid 2007 the Australian operation was delisted from the Australian Stock exchange and became a solely owned Division of Bridgestone Corporation (pending minority shareholder approval as per Australian Corporate Law).

Following the cancellation on Friday, 11 May 2007 of all shares held by minority shareholders, Bridgestone Australia Ltd. became a wholly owned subsidiary of Bridgestone Corporation of Japan. The selective capital reduction and subsequent privatisation which cost $49 million was approved and completed. Bridgestone Australia Ltd was delisted from the ASX on 30 May 2007.

The decision to close Australia's last tyre manufacturing plant has been described as the death of another of the nation's industries.

Bridgestone's Australia and New Zealand manufacturing operations were announced on 23 October 2009 that they were to close. The announcement affected 600 people in the Adelaidemarker, Australia plant and a further 275 jobs in Christchurchmarker, New Zealand. Bridgestone's Australasian jobs in sales, marketing and technical support have not been compromised.

Europe

Bridgestone EU has its head office in Brusselsmarker, Belgiummarker and was set up in 1972. There are 7 production plants in the region and a 32 hectare research and development centre near Romemarker, Italymarker. The company distributes more than 25 million tires a year through 17 national sales subsidiaries and 2 distributors. They directly employ over 12,000 people with the CEO being Mr. Tsuda.

At present there are national headquarters in the following locations: Viennamarker, Austriamarker; Praguemarker, Czech Republicmarker; Hinnerupmarker, Denmarkmarker; Vantaamarker, Finlandmarker; Fresnes, Francemarker; Bad Homburgmarker, Germanymarker; Athensmarker, Greecemarker; Budapestmarker, Hungarymarker; Dublinmarker, Irelandmarker; Milanmarker, Italy; Moerdijkmarker, The Netherlandsmarker; Oslomarker, Norwaymarker; Warsawmarker, Polandmarker; Alcochetemarker, Portugalmarker; Madridmarker, Spainmarker; Sundsvallmarker, Swedenmarker; Spreitenbachmarker, Switzerlandmarker; and Warwickmarker, UKmarker.

Bridgestone EU run a continent wide scheme called Truckpoint wherein fleets can take their vehicles to any Bridgestone approved garage throughout Europe and get Bridgestone specialist work carried out on their tires.

There are no Bridgestone factories in the UK but there is a technical bay at which tires returned by dissatisfied customers are inspected in Coventrymarker.

North America

As part of reinforcement plans, the company purchased a plant in Tennessee from the Firestone Tire & Rubber Company, its first manufacturing plant in North America, and started the production of radial tires for trucks and buses in 1983. Bridgestone also has a steel cord plant in Clarksville, TN named Bridgestone Metalpha. Metalpha is currently ranked as the top provider in the global steel cord market.

In May 1988, a take-over bid of America's No.2 tire manufacturer Firestone Tire and Rubber Company was successful, and Firestone was placed under the Bridgestone umbrella as a subsidiary company. This purchase brought a large number of Firestone global production sites into the Bridgestone organization. These sites included North America, Central and South America, Europe, New Zealand and other locations. Bridgestone also commenced production in Turkey.

Nashville-based Bridgestone Americas Holding, Inc. (BSAH) is the U.S. subsidiary of the Bridgestone Corporation. BSAH and its subsidiaries develop, manufacture and market Bridgestone, Firestone, Dayton and associate brand tires for consumers, automotive and commercial vehicle original equipment manufacturers, and those in the agricultural, forestry and mining industries. The companies also produce air springs, roofing materials, synthetic rubber and industrial fibres and textiles and operate the world’s largest chain of automotive tire and service centres.

Bridgestone and Formula One racing

See also: Formula One tyres.


Bridgestone has supplied tires in Formula One since , although the company one-off produced Formula One tires at the 1976 and 1977 Japanese Grand Prix for Japanese entrants such as Kazuyoshi Hoshino's Heros Racing and Kojima.

The Japanese company decided to supply tires for Formula One in 1995, backed-up by the CEO Yoichiro Kaizaki, aiming to improve company's name value in European market which was greatly inferior compared with Michelin, the archrival for Bridgestone. Though it was scheduled to enter the championship in the 1998 season at first, this schedule was changed to because the engineering section led by Hirohide Hamashima has quickly advanced development. Thus, Hiroshi Yasukawa, the General Manager of Motorsport Department, also made the best use of the experience and networks in Europe since the Bridgestone's European F2 era (19811984) and constructed logistics for Formula One at once.

The first title was acquired right away in the second year, 1998 by Mika Häkkinen and McLarenmarker-Mercedes. And Bridgestone users took five Drivers' championship titles and five Constructors' championship titles ( , – ) for the period that competed with Goodyear ( – ) and Michelin ( – ). Especially, cooperation with Scuderia Ferrari and Michael Schumacher functioned well in this period.

From 2008 to 2010 Bridgestone was due to be the sole tire supplier to the FIA Formula One World Championship. However, because Michelin chose to conclude its Formula One tire program at the end of the 2006 season, all teams have used Bridgestone tires since the 2007 season.

On November 2nd 2009 Bridgestone announced that they will not be renewing their contract to supply tires to Formula One teams after 2010. The company said it was "addressing the impact of the continuing evolution of the business environment"

Tire Record Table - Races Won
Pos Tire Seasons Starts Wins Only

supplier
WC

Drivers
WC

Constr.
2 Bridgestone 19762009 225 156 97 10 10
5 Firestone 19501975 121 49 11 3 3


Diversified products

The predecessors of Bridgestone began making diversified products in the 1930s, soon after they started making tires. Today, Bridgestone diversified operations encompass automotive components, industrial products, polyurethane foam products, construction materials, parts and materials for electronic equipment, bicycles and sporting goods. Diversified business generates about one-fourth of total sales in the Bridgestone Group.

Automotive parts are an especially large line of business for Bridgestone in diversified operations. Bridgestone supply automakers with vibration-isolating components, such as engine mounts. Bridgestone also supply air springs for trucks, automobiles and train carriages. Bridgestone market aluminium wheels and other automotive accessories, too.

Industrial products

Bridgestone's industrial products span a vast range of items. They include polyurethane foam for automotive seats and interiors, for bedding and furniture and for insulation and sealing in appliances and buildings; water hoses; marine hoses for loading and unloading oil tankers; specialty precision hose products, such as wire-blade hose for construction equipment and machine tools; conveyor belts; and rubber tracks for crawler tractors. Additionally, they make retreaded tires for aircraft. Their corporate headquarters for the Bridgestone Aircraft tire division is located in Miami, FLmarker,

The Bridgestone product line in construction and civil engineering materials is similarly broad. Bridgestone supply Multi-Rubber Bearings for installing in foundations to protect buildings from earthquakes, inflatable rubber dams for managing waterways (no longer manufactured - 2008), marine fenders for protecting wharves, additives for pavement, waterproofing sheet, rubberized ceiling and roofing materials, panel tanks for storing water, bath fixtures and residential flooring, air and water systems.

Bridgestone's line of products for electronic equipment includes precision rollers for office machines and functional films for solar cells and plasma displays. In sporting goods, Bridgestone market golf balls and clubs and tennis balls and rackets. Bridgestone's line of bicycles is Japan's most extensive - see above information re-Anchor Cycles.

Bandag

Bandag Company Logo.
On December 05, 2006, Bridgestone Americas and Bandag Inc. announced a merger agreement which will see Bridgestone acquire Bandag, a leading tire (mainly truck) re-treader with over 900 franchise dealers worldwide. Bridgestone's president in Tokyo explained: The transaction is valued at approximately US$1.05 billion. On 31 May 2007, Bridgestone Americas acquired the outstanding shares of Bandag Stock for US$50.75 per share. Bandag is a world leader in the retreading business and is based in Muscatinemarker, Iowamarker. The name of new company has become Bridgestone Bandag, LLC and Saul Solomon has been appointed to the position of Chairman, CEO and President of Bandag. Previously, Solomon served as Vice President and General Counsel of BSAH. Bandag’s headquarters will remain in Muscatine.

Bicycles

The Bridgestone Cycle Co Ltd originated in 1949. It offers bicycles under its own brand and under the Anchor brand.

At one time, Bridgestone marketed bicycles under the name Kabuki.

The U.S. marketing director of the Bicycle division, Grant Petersen, developed a reputation for resisting popular trends in the bicycle industry and instead followed his own personal philosophy of building dependable and comfortable bicycles. Peterson applied this approach to Rivendell Bicycle Works after Bridgestone stopped marketing bicycles in the U.S.

The company was an innovator in the nascent mountain bike scene, designing mountain bicycles with shorter chain-stays and steeper frame angles than was currently popular. This made the bicycle more nimble and a better climber.

Bridgestone is currently building frames in Japan for keirin track racing under Nihon Jitensha Shinkokai approved standards. They are also currently producing non-NJS frames to the Japanese market as well.

In Japan, it is known as a manufacturer of utility bicycle, mountain bike and road bike for racing are sold by the brand of Bridgestone Anchor only in Japan.

Bridgestone has also collaborated with Dr. Alex Moulton to produce the Bridgestone Moulton Bicycle.

Bridgestone Aircraft tire

Bridgestone Aircraft tire (USA) is a manufacturer of aircraft tires as well as retread servicing. Bridgestone America's Holdings announced in May 2006 that it would be moving its Miamimarker, FLmarker aviation operation to its new facility located in Mayodanmarker, NCmarker, this move is expected to be completed by mid 2007 and will create approximately 95 new jobs. CEO and President of Bridgestone Aircraft tire (USA) Joe Rayna is quoted as saying; "This move allows us to continue to prepare for a changing market, both in demand and in product mix, New modern aircraft, such as the Boeing 787 Dreamliner and Airbus A380, arrive fitted with new Bridgestone technology aircraft tires, and this new facility will complement that technology". Bridgestone Aircraft tire (USA) has been a major supplier of aircraft tires and retreads to the aircraft industry for over 70 years and has sister aviation facilities in Tokyo, Hong Kongmarker and Belgium.

Golf Products

Precept Golf is a division of Bridgestone, and is the brand name under which Bridgestone's Golfing Products are marketed.Bridgestone has been producing golf-related products since 1935. The Golf division of Bridgestone currently produces both clubs, balls and accessories.Along with technical developments in tire technology came breakthroughs in golf ball technology that have led Bridgestone to be the number one golf ball producer in Japan.

Design and production of golf clubs followed in 1972 propelling Bridgestone to a leadership position in the current marketplace.

Bridgestone has global coverage of its golfing products with major divisions in USA (Bridgestone Golf USA) and Australia (Bridgestone Golf Australia).

Bridgestone e-Reporter

Bridgestone e-reporter is a pan-European competition for aspiring young sports journalists, open to all students aged 18–30, who are in full-time education.

Now in its fifth year, Bridgestone e-reporter continues to provide up-and-coming writers with first hand experience, interviewing GP2 drivers and issuing race reports from a European GP2 race weekend.

The 2008 competition was officially launched on 1 February 2008 with the deadline for entries at 12.00 GMT on 31 March 2008.

Bridgestone is the sole tire supplier for the GP2 series, an open-wheeled racing championship that is widely regarded as the feeder series for Formula One.

References

External links

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