NASHVILLE, Tenn. (Nov. 17, 2008) — Twenty years after acquiring Firestone Tire & Rubber Co., Bridgestone Corp. is dropping the Firestone name from most of its operating units.
The change is part of a restructuring that takes effect Jan. 1. A spokesman said Bridgestone Americas Holding Inc. is dropping Firestone from its unit names to define and separate its Bridgestone- and Firestone-brand products better.
“We just think that over time—initially we all have to get used to change—but over time, it'll add some clarity to our brand message,” the spokesman said. “It's a little bit cumbersome to say Bridgestone Firestone all the time.”
The operating units name changes will be:
* Bridgestone Americas Holding Inc. to Bridgestone Americas Inc.;
* Bridgestone Firestone North American Tire L.L.C. to Bridgestone Americas Tire Operations L.L.C.;
* BFS Retail & Commercial Operations L.L.C. to Bridgestone Retail Operations L.L.C.;
* Bridgestone Firestone Latin American Tire Operations to Latin American Tire division of Bridgestone Americas Tire Operations; and
* Bridgestone Firestone Diversified Products L.L.C., which does business as Bridgestone Firestone Diversified Products, will become Firestone Diversified Products L.L.C.
Several Bridgestone Americas' international subsidiaries also will be renamed.
Under the new structure, Bridgestone will remain the company's premium tire brand, while the Firestone brand will be the company's value brand.
“I think the important thing to know about that is the Firestone brand will continue to be a valuable and trusted brand throughout our operations in the Americas,” the spokesman said.
The company's diversified products subsidiary will retain Firestone in its name because of the nature of that business.
Dropping “Bridgestone” from the diversified products division makes sense because Firestone “is at the core of our diversified products operation,” said Mark Emkes, chairman and CEO of Bridgestone Americas Holdings.
“Not only is the brand representative of products and services, it is also the identity by which the diversified products customers connect with that business,” he said. “Therefore, in order to be fully responsive to our diversified products customers and avoid confusion, we are highlighting the Firestone name in this business unit.”
Additionally, the company will restructure its new Bridgestone Americas Tire Operations to encompass its U.S. and Canadian consumer and commercial tire businesses as well as its Latin American tire operations.
Asahiko Nishiyama will lead the unit and continue to report to Emkes. Reporting to Nishiyama will be:
* Michael Gorey, chairman, CEO and president of BFS Diversified Products, who will serve as president of Bridgestone Americas Tire Operations' U.S. and Canada Consumer Tire Sales division under the new structure. Reporting to him will be Michael Martini, the division's president of original equipment, and John Baratta, the division's president of replacement tire sales.
* Saul Solomon, president of Bridgestone Bandag Tire Solutions L.L.C., who will serve as president of the U.S. & Canada Commercial Tire Sales division. Reporting to Solomon will be Kenneth Allen, the division's president of agricultural tires, who recently was promoted from vice president of Firestone Agricultural Tire Co.; Shawn Rasey, the division's president of OTR tires, who recently was promoted from vice president of Bridgestone Firestone Off Road Tire Co.; and Scott Gateley, general manager of the division's tube business.
* Kurt Danielson, Bridgestone Bandag vice president of marketing, will assume the duties of Singh Ahluwalia, who will retire March 1 as president of truck and bus sales.
* Eduardo Minardi, who will continue to serve as president of the company's Latin American Tire division.
Several other staff members will retain their job responsibilities under new titles or be reassigned to new or existing positions within the company.