Change is that inevitable breeze that seems to stir up everything in its path.
And as a new year approaches, the winds of change often pick up gale-force strength.
Two of the world's top three tire manufacturers announced changes recently that will affect business in 2020.
First, at Bridgestone Corp. — the world's top global tire manufacturer according to overall sales — change is coming both at the corporate level and at its Bridgestone Americas Inc. subsidiary.
Shuichi Ishibashi, a 41-year company veteran who held senior executive roles at the company's North American operations throughout the 1990s, will succeed Masaaki Tsuya as CEO. Mr. Tsuya has held that position since 2012.
The change will become effective in March.
Mr. Ishibashi, who has been with Bridgestone since 1977, has experience in the tire and diversified products segments in the U.S. and Japan, according to the company.
In the U.S., Paolo Ferrari, CEO of Bridgestone Europe since 2016 and Pirelli Tire North America's top executive from 2011-14, was named president, CEO and chief operating officer of Bridgestone Americas.
Mr. Ferrari succeeds Gordon Knapp, vice chair and executive officer of Bridgestone Corp. and president, CEO and COO of Bridgestone Americas, who will transition out of his executive roles Jan. 15 but continue to serve as a strategic adviser until March 31.
CEO since 2016, Mr. Knapp spent much of his career prior to that in consumer products operations. During his three years as leader of Bridgestone Americas, Mr. Knapp has helped the company maneuver through the winds of industry change that all tire makers must navigate, but also created headwinds himself for change and innovation within Bridgestone.
Under his direction, Bridgestone has continued to reinvest and reinvigorate its portfolio, particularly the Firestone brand, which had been in need of a refresh for some time. Earlier this year, Bridgestone held a ride-and-drive event at Texas Motor Speedway to unveil four new products, three of which were Firestone products.
As part of the refresh, the venerable brand now competes in the burgeoning all-weather category with the debut of one of those products, the Firestone WeatherGrip.
Mr. Knapp also did something in his tenure that few thought possible: He and his Bridgestone colleagues collaborated with one of their main competitors, Goodyear, to form TireHub Inc. While the 50/50 joint venture has hit its share of bumps in the road in the ramp-up phase, the wholesaler has become a viable entity in the market, distributing products from Bridgestone, Goodyear and Toyo, among others.
While the jury remains out about the success of TireHub, Mr. Knapp's Bridgestone Americas unit seized upon an opportunity that very well might position the company for future successes.
And during Mr. Knapp's tenure, Bridgestone began construction of another U.S. tire plant. Bridgestone is building a race tire plant and innovation center in Akron to supply tires to the NTT IndyCar Series.
Meanwhile Goodyear, the world's No. 3 tire maker, announced its acquisition of Raben Tire Co. L.L.C. of Evansville, Ind., one of the 50 largest commercial and retail dealerships and retreaders in the U.S.
The move provides the Akron-based tire maker with 30 points of sales in six U.S. states, advancing its "Connected Business Model" while giving it the ability to grow its aftermarket tire business.
Raben Tire, which in 2018 was ranked as the 20th largest commercial tire dealership in the U.S. with sales that year estimated at $87.5 million, gives Goodyear a boost to its bottom line. Raben, founded 67 years ago, generates $150 million-plus annually from its businesses.
How will the changes affect these tire makers?
Check back next year.
The only thing certain is this: The winds of change will continue to blow through the industry.