NASHVILLE, Tenn.—On the same day the company celebrated the 100th anniversary of the founding of Firestone, Bridgestone/Firestone Inc. Chairman Masatoshi Ono laid down an ambitious challenge to employees. He wants BFS to become the No. 1 tire maker in the Americas, said John Lampe, Bridgestone/Firestone Tire Sales Co. president who attended the employee-only meeting April 13 in Nashville.
"Our goal is to have 25 percent of the market in the Americas by 2005," he said.
BFS' combined share of the North and South American markets is more than 20 percent—measured in tons of tires shipped, rather than units, Mr. Lampe said. "We're a little stronger here in the U.S. than we are in South America, in total," he added.
To reach the 25-percent target, BFS aims to continue growing 1 percent annually—a script it has followed successfully since 1992, Mr. Lampe said.
Goodyear currently maintains the top spot in North America with an estimated 28-percent market share, followed by Bridgestone/Firestone with 23.1 percent and Michelin North America Inc. at 22.7 percent.
In South America, Goodyear leads with an estimated 26 percent share, followed by BFS at 21 percent.
"Mr. Ono set the vision for us for where we want to be," Mr. Lampe said of the special meeting.
Then Bridgestone Corp. Chairman Yoichiro Kaizaki walked on stage, Mr. Lampe said, and delivered to the audience his theme: "One more for No. 1."
"The whole premise behind the theme is that if everybody went out and made one more customer contact, made one more sale, contacted one more fleet, handled one more problem, if everybody adopted the mentality of doing one more, then we could attain our goal," Mr. Lampe said.
The company also presented a "Declaration for the Future," which addressed how it planned to get to the No. 1 spot and some of the things it must do to accomplish that goal, Mr. Lampe said.
The four-point declaration committed the company to "being customer focused by earning a reputation" in the following areas:
The first point, Mr. Lampe said, involves paying attention to the company's own associates by making it rewarding to work at BFS. "We have believed for years that the way you make customers happy is by having happy associates," he said.
The second point focuses on serving the customer—putting the customer first and foremost when making decisions.
The third focal point is on the company being an active participant in the communities where it operates, and the importance of being environmentally focused within those communities.
The final part stated that in doing all these things, the company can achieve "positive business results and prosperity."
Each of the company's 23 divisional presidents then walked on stage and signed the declaration, while nearly 2,000 associates witnessed the event.
Later that evening, Mr. Lampe presented the signed declaration to Mr. Ono during the company's Centennial Celebration Show at the Grand Ole Opry House in Nashville.