The Oklahoma City plant that originally was under the auspices of Bridgestone/Firestone's Dayton Tire Co. division is under a closure threat, but that move isn't likely to have much impact on the Dayton brand itself, a spokeswoman said.
The Oklahoma City plant produces a mix of all brands, including Bridgestone, Firestone and associates, but its products are among the low-end variety that have seen intense competition and declining demand, said Christine Karbowiak, vice president of public affairs. The tire maker and union have said they still will negotiate any closing.
In a broader sense, Dayton's status as an associate brand was sealed a couple years ago, said Phil Pacsi, BFS' executive director of consumer tire brand marketing. It accompanies other associates such as Fuzion, Peerless, Lemans, Gillette and Road King, he said.
``Bridgestone and Firestone are the brands we're really out there promoting,'' he said.
The tire maker still plans to update the brand's lines and continue adding new products and sizes. Mr. Pacsi said the firm has not determined whether production from Oklahoma City would be moved elsewhere or where it would go if the plant does indeed close by year-end.
Marketing is primarily in-store or through promotional items for dealers to use locally in their own advertising. Many dealers remain loyal to the Dayton brand, he said, while others use Dayton and other associates as their entry-level offerings. ``It's really a matter of how the dealer goes to business and how they utilize associate brands within their organization,'' he said.
Mr. Pacsi said BFS made the determination about three years ago that the industry was moving more toward flag brands as opposed to smaller brands.
``There wasn't room for a third major brand,'' he said.
Still, he said the associate brands combined represent a sizeable amount of Bridgestone/Firestone's business.
``We will continue to be a full-line supplier in the associate brand arena,'' Mr. Pacsi said.
Tire Business estimates the Dayton brand at about 2.5 percent of the North American replacement passenger tire market and 1.5 percent of the light truck tire aftermarket.
BFS maintains a www.daytontire.com Web site, but it redirects users to the BFS corporate site. BFS also has a www.daytontrucktire.com site, set up recently in line with the company's push to provide its Bridgestone and Firestone truck tire brands' more individual identity.
Firestone Tire & Rubber Co. bought the then-56-year-old Dayton Rubber Manufacturing Co. in 1961. In 1991, Dayton became a separate division of Bridgestone/Firestone until it was merged into BFS operations in 1999.