As group president, Mr. Asbun's duties include leading sales in all tire-led businesses throughout the company's Americas region. This includes both the company's consumer and commercial tire segments.
While Mr. Asbun has decades of experience in business, and has been at Bridgestone since 2012, he has been in his current role for only a little less than a year, taking over just as the pandemic took hold in the U.S.
He relocated to Bridgestone Americas headquarters in Nashville after leading the company's China and Asia Pacific operations as both CEO and chief operating officer.
"The pandemic has made our organization more flexible and nimble in the face of change. When the crisis began, we quickly activated a cross-functional Enterprise Crisis Management team and developed a playbook that continues to guide our response efforts today for each of our locations in the U.S., Canada and Latin America," Mr. Asbun said.
"There's no doubt that we will be working to understand the long-term impacts of this crisis on our industry and the world for a long time, but we are confident that our organization and our dealer partners will emerge stronger," he said.
Bridgestone sees an opportunity not only to manage the crisis for the short-term but also position the company for what Mr. Asbun describes as a "strong post-crisis recovery" with continued growth.
And that future, he said, will include some clear and tangible ways that Bridgestone will change.
"We've been impressed with the adaptability of our office-based workforce as they've transitioned to remote work over the past year, and I think you'll see us embracing a more flexible work environment that supports virtual working beyond this crisis," Mr. Asbun said.
"Virtual tools have given us an opportunity to stay closely connected with our dealers throughout this crisis, and I think we'll continue to leverage technology in this way long after the pandemic," he said.
While Bridgestone, like other tire manufacturers, idled plants temporarily when demand plummeted early in the pandemic, the company has not experienced any supply chain difficulties along the way.
"As the market rebounds, we continue to closely manage our supply pipeline to ensure we have the right tires at the right place at the right time to meet our customers' needs. As a global company, we employ a diverse product supply and manufacturing strategy that encompasses production facilities worldwide. This has also helped ensure consistent availability of our products," Mr. Asbun said.
As the first quarter of 2021 draws to a close, he is optimistic about recovery.
"We believe there will be pent up demand that will be good for our business and for our dealers. Certainly, the outlook for TBR (truck and bus radial) replacement sales remains strong as last-mile delivery continues to support the movement of essential goods.
"Recovery in the consumer and OE segments remains softer, but we expect to see partial demand recovery in 2021 and anticipate sales at or above 2019 levels by 2023," Mr. Asbun said.
This so-called last-mile delivery of products to homes helped create what Mr. Asbun called pockets of opportunity last year during a time when the lockdown caused an overall decline in the tire market. Other bright areas included the company's commercial business and retreads.
Business during the third and fourth quarters was better than the first and second quarters in 2020 as the company ended the year with better global sales than originally forecasted, he said.
Bridgestone said it expects the recovery to continue with the second half of this year improving on the first half and continued recovery in 2022.
"The post-pandemic world will look different from 2019. There are things we have learned we can do with success that we would not have thought possible before the pandemic. There are new consumer behaviors that will likely persist and transform how we live, work and move," Mr. Asbun said.