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Published on April 21, 2000

Fitting tribute to Firestone´s past

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Opinion

AKRON (April 21, 2000)—Bridgestone/Firestone Inc. has come a long way since its creation out of the 1988 acquisition of the former Firestone Tire & Rubber Co. by Bridgestone Corp.


That was clearly evident during the impressive Firestone Centennial Celebration the company threw in Nashville April 13 for more than 2,500 employees, tire dealers and friends.


From a time when Firestone was on its knees as a company bleeding red ink, Bridgestone has returned the tire maker and the Firestone brand to its former glory, a feeling that came through clearly during the celebration.


For those who witnessed Firestone before Bridgestone took over, the program and the success of the company in recent years had to leave a good impression.


Bridgestone, unlike some offshore companies that have acquired former U.S. tire makers, has shown an appreciation for the history and heritage of its acquired brand and the men and women who shaped it.


Initially, the Japanese parent company saw the acquisition as a chance to substitute the Bridgestone brand for that of Firestone in North America. However, it soon recognized the value of Firestone and rightly chose to fully support and promote it in concert with the Bridgestone brand.


History has shown that the company´s fortunes began improving following that decision.


The centennial program highlighted the contributions of Harvey Firestone Sr., who founded the company in Akron in 1900 and built it into a worldwide competitor.


Among his many accomplishments, he established the company´s close ties with Ford Motor Co., pioneered use of rubber tractor tires and coined the phrase, "win on Sunday, sell on Monday," recognizing the company´s many racing victories.


One of the most touching moments of the anniversary celebration occurred when the company paused to honor former Firestone employees—some of whom are now nearing 100—as well as longstanding current employees, dealers and suppliers.


That same day, Bridge-stone/Firestone also demonstrated its desire to be a good corporate citizen by giving the state of Tennessee 6,000 acres of pristine wilderness.


In combination with 4,000 acres the company gave to the state two years earlier, the 10,000-acre donation was called "one of the most significant gifts to conservation in the history of corporate America."


In this day and age, when corporate profits often are the only gauge by which success is measured, it was nice to see Bridgestone/Firestone take the time and make the effort to remember those in the past who built the company into what it is today. ©

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