Rubber and the Road: The History of Bridgestone

The Bridgestone brand is synonymous with high-quality tires and rubber products. To date, it has more than 50,000 employees and 52 production facilities around the globe. However, reaching this level of success might have seemed a bit far-fetched during the company’s early stages.

The History of Bridgestone – Humble Beginnings

Prior to getting into the tire and rubber business, Shojiro Ishibashi, who would later become the founder of the Bridgestone Tire Company, was running his family-owned clothing business at the age of 17. He decided to use his earnings to invest in an untapped industry in Japan: tire production. He predicted there would be a huge demand for tires as the automotive industry expanded.

On April 9, 1930, Ishibashi’s dream of producing tires domestically became a reality when his own in-house operation, referred to as the Japan “Tabi” socks Tire Division, manufactured the first Bridgestone tire.

Global Expansion

On March 1, 1931, Ishibashi decided to take his tire operation a step further by forming the Bridgestone Tire Company, Ltd. in Kurume, Fukuoka Prefecture, a city located in Japan. For more than 50 years, Bridgestone continued to evolve and eventually established itself not only as the largest manufacturer of tires in the country, but also as an international brand. However, they faced many challenges along the way.

During its early days, the Bridgestone Tire Company were saddled down by production, technology and sales-related issues.

And then came World War II, which was the culprit for the destruction of its Tokyo Headquarters along with the complete eradication of assets located overseas.

Fortunately, the war came to an end and the emerging tire and rubber manufacturer was also able to open a plant in Singapore in 1965. And in 1967, the Bridgestone Tire Company of America was formed.

Technological Advancements

In 1951, Bridgestone introduced rayon cord tires to Japan. And only eight years later, it added nylon tires to its arsenal of products. The tire and rubber giant also opened another plant in Tokyo in 1960. Bridgestone began selling passenger-vehicle tires, known as RD-10s, in 1967. In 1978, it put the high-performance radial tire, POTENZA, on the market.

The Merger

Although Bridgestone’s founder passed away in 1976, the company continued to thrive. It purchased the Firestone Tire & Rubber Company plant, located in Tennessee, in 1982 and in 1988 the company made the decision to shift to a global corporation by acquiring The Firestone Tire & Rubber Company. This well-established company was founded in August 1900 by Harvey Firestone in Akron, Ohio, and had already made a mark internationally in the evolving tire and rubber industry. Following the merger, the newly formed Bridgestone Group quickly claimed its share of the market as one of the largest global tire and rubber entities.

Since the merger, Bridgestone remains committed to excellence and desires to go the extra mile to serve both customers and society with quality products.

Interested in more on the Bridgestone story? Bridgestone’s website details the company’s long history.

About the Author: Allison Martin is a writer, financial mentor and business consultant to mommy-preneurs. Her work has been featured on ABC News, MSN Money, Yahoo! Finance, Fox Business, and Money Talks News. When she’s not writing away, Allison enjoys spending time with her family and traveling.