NASHVILLE, Tenn.—Bridgestone Americas Inc. will reopen its North American passenger tire plants and all factories in Latin America by the end of the month, the final phase of its restarting initiative in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Bridgestone said May 12 that plants in Akron (racing tires, 60 employees); Wilson, N.C., (passenger/light truck tires, 2,100 employees); Bahia ( passenger/LT tires, 912 employees) and Santo Andre, Brazil, (passenger tires); and San Jose, Costa Rica, (P/LT tires, 978 employees) reopened on May 11.
Plants in Aiken, S.C., (off-road radial tires, 450 employees); Joliette, Quebec, (passenger/light truck tires, 1,350 employees); and Curnavaca, Mexico, (passenger/light truck tires, 1,123 employees) are scheduled to restart production on May 18, while factories in Leon, Mexico, (Bandag retread products, 56 employees), and in Muncie, Ind., (retread components, 31 employees), will reopen May 30.
Bridgestone restarted production at its North American commercial tire plants as well as its North American Firestone Industrial Products and Firestone Building Products factories the week of April 13. Bridgestone's Bandag retread materials plants in North America resumed operations the week of March 29.
Truck/bus and agriculture tire production at the Santo Andre, Brazil, plant resumed on April 20.
The reopening date of the tire plant Monterrey, Mexico, has not been set.
Two Bandag retreading materials plants in Brazil, in Campinas and Mafra, opened in mid-April, while the tire factory in Llavallol, Argentina, which makes passenger, light truck, OTR and ag tires, reopened on May 7.
The ramp-up of these facilities will bring all Bridgestone manufacturing locations in North America back into operation, the company said.
Bridgestone developed an Environmental Health Safety & Sustainability Playbook that outlines all measures that must be taken at every location in North America before it reopens, in order to promote safety.
The playbook served as the blueprint for restarting operations at Bridgestone's U.S. commercial tire plants in late March. It alos helped Bridgestone reopened its U.S.-based Firestone Industrial Products and Firestone Building Products factories.
Paolo Ferrari, CEO and president of Bridgestone Americas, said the company remains "laser-focused on employee safety at all Bridgestone Americas facilities.
"As our remaining facilities come back online, we will continue to take a measured approach and utilize the latest safety protocols from the CDC as a foundational roadmap to guide our restart activities," Ferrari said. "Close collaboration with local, state and federal authorities, as well as site leaders throughout all of our operations has been and will continue to be a key component of our success as we bring our teammates back to work."
Eight employees at Bridgestone's Des Moines agricultural tire plant, which reopened April 13, have tested positive for COVID-19 as of May 1, the company said.
"We are taking every precaution, including thorough disinfection and self-quarantine of any employees who came into contact with a (COVID-19) positive employee," Bridgestone said.