NASHVILLE, Tenn.—As part of a series of moves designed to restore consumer confidence in the Firestone brand and improve management accountability, Bridgestone/Firestone Inc. is restructuring its operations.
The Nashville-based tire maker announced that, effective immediately, 16 business divisions that operated as separate companies will be consolidated into four units that will report directly to John Lampe, BFS chairman, CEO and president. The realignment is one of Mr. Lampe's first acts since replacing Masatoshi Ono as chief executive Oct. 10.
In a prepared statement, Mr. Lampe said the changes are needed to speed the company's decision-making and ensure greater consistency in its operating procedures.
"Since the early '90s, we have been a decentralized company, focusing on 21 separate businesses," Mr. Lampe said. "While this structure was innovative and successful for our company then, it is time to dismantle the castle walls and empty the moats. Going forward, our emphasis will be on better information and knowledge sharing, and more direct accountability at all levels inside the company."
The newly created units are as follows:
U.S. Consumer Tire, which incorporates BFS' consumer tire sales—including Dayton Tire Co.—original equipment sales, company-owned retail store operations and credit card businesses. Shu Ishibashi, previously division vice president of tire marketing, has been named president of this unit and also will serve as an executive vice president of BFS.
U.S. Commercial Tire, which merges BFS' truck, agricultural and off-the-road tire operations and its inner tube business. Chuck Ramsey, formerly head of the tube division, will oversee this unit as president and continue as a BFS executive vice president.
International Tire Operations, which consolidates all of BFS' international tire business, including Bridgestone/Firestone Canada Inc., and will be headed by Mark Emkes, formerly president of Bridgestone/ Firestone do Brasil. Mr. Emkes also continues as a BFS executive vice president.
Manufacturing and Technology Operations, which will be managed by Isao Togashi, who also is BFS' new vice chairman. He will oversee all research, technology and manufacturing operations.
All four units will be based in Nashville, a company spokeswoman said. The business divisions within each unit will retain their presidents, she added.
Five non-tire business units—Firestone Building Products, Firestone Industrial Products, Firestone Fibers and Textiles Co., Firestone Natural Rubber Co. and Firestone Polymers—are not included in the consolidation and will remain unchanged.
BFS said further changes would be announced in the coming weeks. No further layoffs, besides those announced at the Decatur, Ill., plant, are expected from the corporate restructuring, a BFS spokesman said.