Title: Plant manager
Company: Bridgestone Americas Inc.'s Aiken, S.C., off-the-road tire plant
Why he was selected: Barfoot is one of the five original employees appointed to the firm's OTR tire manufacturing plant, and now is leading the South Carolina operation.
What inspired you to pursue a career in the rubber industry?
Tire manufacturing is an incredible process from the standpoint of the size and technology of the products and the fascinating equipment used to produce it. From passenger tire precision handling and speed, to airline tire reliability and off-road tire strength and durability, there are some very innovative developments that mankind has figured out how to make, and I get to be a part of its use (equipment) and creation (tires). Also, tire and rubber products are a staple commodity that will always be needed in some sort of fashion; therefore, the industry demand is sustainable for innovative companies like Bridgestone that are in tune with customer needs.
How has working in the rubber industry broadened your view of the world?
Through my history on the truck and bus side, and now especially in the off-road tire market, I can see how so many global industries are tied together. Whether it is change in oil prices, relaxing of mining regulations, tightening vehicle standards or strengthening of foreign or domestic economies, nearly every major industry is affected in one way or another and must respond to stay successful. Those companies, like Bridgestone, which can predict the changes in environment and are flexible enough to adjust quickly are going to come out ahead.
What advice do you have for students considering a career in the rubber industry?
Always be available to support others who may be struggling with specific opportunities. Your willingness to assist—and often learn as well—not only furthers the business, but also grows and rounds out your knowledge base. Don't worry if the challenge is outside of your specific department or career discipline. Also, while we are all searching and striving for success, it's important to know what "success" means to you. If I can provide a unique activity or skill set that others can't to accomplish a difficult task (independently or group/organizationally) which ultimately benefits others and the "greater good" is my definition of success.
Other interests: Spends most of his time with his wife and three young kids hiking, playing sports and traveling.