Mark Emkes, chairman, president and CEO of Bridgestone Americas Inc., is retiring after more than 33 years with the company, including the past six as the firm's top executive.
Bridgestone named Asahiko Duke Nishiyama to succeed him as chairman and Gary Garfield as CEO and president.
Mr. Emkes, 57, joined the former Firestone Tire & Rubber Co. in 1976 after earning his master's degree in international management from the Thunderbird School of Global Management. His first job was changing tires at a company-owned store in Baytown, Texas.
He later started an international career spanning more than 21 years, with assignments in the United Arab Emirates, Spain, MÃ&Copy;xico and Brazil, before being promoted in 2002 to chairman, CEO and president of Bridgestone Firestone North American Tire L.L.C.
Mr. Emkes ascended to the top executive spot at Nashville, Tenn.-based Bridgestone Americas in 2004, succeeding John Lampe.
Bridgestone said naming two successors will allow it to further enhance the company's corporate governance structure and more clearly differentiate the responsibilities and accountabilities of (Bridgestone Americas') senior management offices.
Mr. Nishiyama has been with Bridgestone Corp. since 1977 and has been chairman, CEO and President of Bridgestone Americas Tire Operations since 2008. He has spent nine years in the U.S. in various assignments from 1997 to 2001 and from 2005 to the present, Bridgestone said.
Mr. Garfield was vice president, general counsel, chief compliance office and secretary for Bridgestone Americas, with responsibility for overseeing the company's legal and compliance functions, Bridgestone said.
He joined the companythen known as Bridgestone/Firestone Inc.in 1991.
Mr. Emkes also will retire from his position as a member of the boards of directors of Bridgestone Americas and Bridgestone Corp.
Other related executive changes are:
Eduardo Minardi, president of the Latin American Tire division, will become Bridgestone Americas' chief operating officer as well as chairman, CEO and president of Bridgestone Americas Tire Operations, which comprises the company's Latin American tire operations and the U.S. and Canadian consumer and commercial tire businesses.
Under the new structure, Mr. Minardi and Ken Weaver, chairman, CEO and president of Firestone Diversified Products L.L.C., will report to Mr. Nishiyama. Reporting to Mr. Minardi will be Larry Magee, chairman, CEO and president of Bridgestone Retail Operations L.L.C.
On Feb. 18 Mr. Emkes came to Akron for the groundbreaking ceremony of Bridgestone Americas' new $100 million, 240,000-sq.ft. technical center, which should be completed by year-end 2011. He was joined by Messrs. Nishiyama and Garfield and other Bridgestone executives, as well as Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland, Akron Mayor Don Plusquellic and other local elected officials.
The facility will allow Bridgestone to keep about a 1,000 technical personnel employed in Akron. Bridgestone's share of the investment is $67 million, the company said.
The remainder is coming from the city of Akron, Summit County and state of Ohio in grants, tax breaks and other incentives.
Speaking with the tire trade press after the groundbreaking, Mr. Emkes said he had been thinking about retirement since last year but didn't want to leave the company during the economic downturn.
He said the Feb. 12 announcement of his retirement may have seemed abrupt, but the typical procedure in Japan is to announce personnel changes together with financial results, which were released Feb. 19.
Mr. Emkes' last day was scheduled to be Feb. 28.
In his retirement, Mr. Emkes and his wife Conchi plan to spend three to four months of the year at a family apartment in Spain and the rest of the time in Nashville. He will serve on the board of directors for Greif Inc., a packaging company in Delaware, Ohio.
Mr. Emkes said emotions of gratitude have welled up inside him for all his colleagues who have supported him throughout his three decades at Bridgestone Americas and its predecessor companies.
He said he would like to be remembered for bringing open, honest communication to the company and for fostering a corporate culture of character values and integrity. He said he encouraged all employees to bring their ideas to the table.
Tire Business Staff Reporters Bruce Davis and Vera Linsalata contributed to this report.
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