RUSSELLVILLE, Ark.Bridgestone Amer- icas Tube Business, based in Russell-ville, is marking 50 years of making inner tube products.
The Russellville plant is the only remaining tube producer in the U.S. and Canada, according to Bridgestone.
The facility produced its first butyl inner tube on Oct. 24, 1964, manufacturing 14,650 units per day.
Fifty years later, the plant has the capacity to process more than 20 million pounds of rubber per year into tubes, the Nashville, Tenn.-based tire maker said.
Originally a 136,000-sq.-ft. facility, the Russellville factory has undergone five expansions over the years and now spans 320,000 square feet and employs more than 2,000.
In 1973, the plant was selected by Exxon Laboratories to assist in the development of an ENJAY splicer prototype model to support the advent of radial tires. The machine became the standard for quality splicing worldwide, the company said.
Other innovations orig-inating from the plant include the development of a premium natural rubber compound for use in forestry and racing tire applications and introduction of a rear farm severe-service product line to provide farmers with a butyl tractor tube.