SAN FRANCISCO — It has been a big year so far for Bridgestone/Firestone.
Just four months into 2007, and the company has committed to expanding its truck tire business in the Americas and has a pending $1.05 billion cash buyout of Bandag Inc. on its plate. And it has reported good financial results for 2006.
Mark Emkes, chairman and CEO of Bridgestone Americas Holding Inc., said despite rising raw material costs, Bridgestone sales grew to $11 billion in 2006 from $10.3 billion in 2005. He spoke at the tire maker´s annual Bizcon 11 commercial truck tire dealer meeting in San Francisco, April 2-4.
"We´re the team that more and more fleet customers want to buy from, across the Americas," he said.
BFS executives were guarded in their remarks on the acquisition of Bandag because of legal constraints since the deal is pending. Art Campagnoni, vice president of North American commercial sales, did provide a few answers about the buyout, which was approved by Bandag shareholders April 3.
"It is not our intent to change our relationship with any dealer based solely on retreading process," he said.
Campagnoni said there could be potential conflicts in some areas, but if they occur, "we will try to work through the conflict or agree to disagree just as we always have."
He said Bandag franchisees that aren´t already BFS dealers won´t be required to become BFS dealers.
"Our distribution strategy is based on sound business policies designed to create higher value for the fleet, for our dealers and for ourselves," he said. "If it makes sense relative to our area marketing analysis that adding distribution will in fact create higher value for the fleets we serve, for our entire distribution network and for ourselves, then yes, we´ll consider it market area by market area."
Singh Ahluwalia, president of commercial products, said BFS commercial dealers had a "strong voice" in the genesis of the Bandag acquisition because the tire maker had listened to years of dealers telling it that such a merger would bring great value to fleets. Instead of creating its own retreading process, BFS decided such an acquisition made the most sense and would cause the least disruption to its dealers´ businesses, Ahluwalia said.
Emkes said the company has received a positive response on the transaction from many fleets.