NASHVILLE, Tenn. (April 17, 2001) — Bridgestone/Firestone Inc. has begun recalling laid-off workers at its Oklahoma City, Okla., passenger and light truck tire plant and will raise output accordingly, reflecting a resurgence in demand for the company's products and the company's efforts to pare down inventories.
BFS said it will reinstate by May 1 more than 330 of 700 workers laid off Jan. 21 at the plant as part of an effort to trim inventories that had been inflated in anticipation of a strike by workers at nine BFS plants in the U.S. At that same time, the company laid off 700 employees at Oklahoma City and nearly 400 at its LaVergne, Tenn., plant. That strike was averted by a September settlement. The remaining workers at Oklahoma City and the 400 at LaVergne remain on layoff, BFS said.
Oklahoma City employs 2,145 and turns out 43,500 tires a day at full capacity, according to company data.
The normal employment at the LaVergne car, light truck and medium truck tire plant is 1,894, with capacity at 18,500 units a day.
"Sales of our associate brand tires and certain Firestone brand tires are strong, and we have successfully reduced our inventories of the kinds of tires manufactured at this plant," said John McQuade, vice president of manufacturing.
In addition to the Oklahoma City and LaVergne layoffs, Bridgestone/Firestone implemented temporary plant shutdowns at its Warren County, Tenn., plant and has laid off 450 workers indefinitely at its Decatur, Ill., plant.
The company recently said its car and light truck tire replacement sales were off 24 percent in the first quarter, compared with the first quarter of 2000, but this was markedly better than expected and should be viewed in the context of an overall market slump of 7 percent.