AKRON (April 11, 2012) — Bridgestone Americas' new Americas Technical Center in Akron will be a “catalyst” for both Bridgestone and the Firestone Park neighborhood surrounding it, President and CEO Gary Garfield told a crowd of more than 200 today at the center's grand opening.
Under construction since February 2010, the $100 million facility in south Akron houses 450 Bridgestone technicians, engineers, etc. who previously worked out of offices at the 101-year-old former Firestone Tire & Rubber Co. headquarters a mile north of the new facility.
“This facility will be a catalyst for innovation” for Bridgestone's technical team, Mr. Garfield said, “to help maintain Bridgestone's status as the No. 1 tire and rubber product maker.
“But we see it also as catalyst for renovation of the Firestone Park neighborhood,” he added, referring to area around the tech center that was built up in the early 20th century for those working at the nearby Firestone tire plants.
“This (area) has been a center of innovation for more than a century,” he said, adding, “…but while we are proud of our past and the history and heritage of our great company, today is about looking to the future — to writing the next chapter in the story of our organization. And it all starts right here at this new technical center.”
The speakers and invited guests braved 40-degree temperatures and intermittent rain to hear Bridgestone executives and local and state dignitaries commemorate the occasion.
The new center has been built to Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold specifications, which means it was designed and constructed to have the highest performance in human and environmental health. The architects and builders used a variety of products from Bridgestone's Firestone Building Products division to help the facility meet the rigid LEED requirements.
The four-floor, 260,000-sq.-ft. facility sits on land adjacent to the Firestone Polymers research facility and across the street from Firestone Stadium, home of the Akron Racers professional women's softball team. A bronze statue of Firestone founder Harvey Firestone sits facing the facility's main entrance.
Bridgestone first floated the idea of a new technical center in early 2008 and elected to keep it in Akron in August 2008 after studying a number of other potential sites.
The city of Akron, Summit County and the state of Ohio all contributed financial and/or logistics resources to the project.
On hand to help open the facility were Kazuhisa Nishigai, Bridgestone Corp. chief operating officer; Hank Hara, vice president and chief technology officer of Bridgestone Americas; Donald Plusquelic, Akron mayor; and other local and state dignitaries.
The open-floor-plan, natural-light design building was designed by Harris/Day Architecture of Canton, Ohio, and built by Ruhlin Co. of Sharon Center, Ohio.
Akron is one of five technical centers Bridgestone operates worldwide. The others are in Tokyo and Yokohama, Japan; Rome, Italy; and Wuxi, China.