Bridgestone is one of the top tire producers in the world and has been for several years now. The company was founded in 1931 by Shojiro Ishibashi in Kurume, Fukuoka, Japan. Ishibashi took over his family’s clothing business in 1906. During his time working in clothing, he created a specialized version of the traditional Japanese socks known as “tabi” using rubber soles. His socks could then be used as work shoes. Known as “Jika-tabi” the shoes made Ishibashi a lot of money, and he eventually decided to use that money to make tires.
The first of Ishibashi’s tires was produced in 1930 by the Japanese “Tabi” Socks Tyre Division. Nearly a year later, Ishibashi established the Bridgestone Tyre Co., the name coming from Ishibashi’s last name which translates to “stone bridge” in English.
When Bridgestone first started producing tires, their efforts were focused on using Japanese technology only to make them. Despite some initial setbacks, the company quickly expanded its market overseas. The company moved its headquarters to Tokyo in 1937 and changed its name to Nippon Tire Co. in 1942.
The company took a hit during World War II when their resources were used to satisfy the demands of the Japanese military. Not only did they suffer economically and financially, but also physically. The company’s headquarters were destroyed in a bomb during the war. However, factories in Kurume and Yokohama remained standing, and the company was able to resume manufacturing tires soon after the war.
In 1951, the company changed its name back to Bridgestone, and in that same year, they began to sell rayon cord tires. By 1953, Bridgestone was the top tire producer in Japan. In 1959, the company started to sell nylon tires, and the following year, a plant was opened in Tokyo to keep up with the high demand. During this time, Bridgestone began manufacturing golf balls and bicycles.
The 1960s was a decade of major expansion for Bridgestone. In 1961, the company was listed on the stock market. Shojiro Ishibashi stepped into the role of chairman, while his son Kanichiro Ishibashi took over as the president of the company. Two factories were built overseas, including one in Singapore (1965) and one in Thailand (1969). Bridgestone Tire Company of America was established in 1967 and was the company’s headquarters for sales in the United States. In that same year, the company also sold its first passenger vehicle radial tire.
During the 1970s, Bridgestone was focused on overseas expansion, while also working on technology to manufacture its radial tires. They began producing tires in Indonesia, Taiwan, and Iran, while also purchasing a plant in Australia to not only make tires but other products as well. Despite all the gains experienced by the company, a major blow came when Shojiro Ishibashi died on September 11, 1976, at the age of 87.
In 1981, the company celebrated its 50th anniversary. Bridgestone continues to work toward its goal of becoming one of the world’s top manufacturers of rubber products. As a result, the company purchased its first manufacturing plant in North America, from Firestone Tire & Rubber Company. The company then acquired Firestone for $2.65 billion in 1988, creating Bridgestone/Firestone Inc. The Firestone acquisition gave Bridgestone a significant foothold in Europe by providing the company with plants in Portugal, Spain, and Italy. During this time, the company also established a satellite company in Hamburg, Germany and a subsidiary in London.
Now, Bridgestone continues to be competitive despite the emergence of a variety of other tire companies. Bridgestone manufacturing companies dot the world, and they have now branched out to produce other products as well. Additionally, the company also has a hand in popular motorsports.
Bridgestone is now focused on environmental issues and using natural resources wisely as they continue to produce top-notch products globally. As a result of their efforts, six of their facilities have a zero-waste-to-landfill status, and they’re working on reducing their CO2 emissions by 35 percent before 2020.
Bridgestone tires are available at all Burt Brothers locations along the Wasatch Front.