Firestone History

Early/mid 20th century

Firestone was originally based in Akron, Ohio, also the hometown of its archrival, Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company. The company initiated operations in 1900 with 12 employees. Together, Firestone and Goodyear were the largest suppliers of automotive tires in North America for over three-quarters of a century. In 1906 Firestone was chosen by Henry Ford for the Model T.
In 1919, Firestone Tire and Rubber Company of Canada was incorporated in Hamilton, Ontario and in 1922, the first Canadian-made tire rolled off the line on September 15. During the '20s, Firestone produced the Oldfield tire, named for racing driver Barney Oldfield.
At one point, the company had a rubber plantation in Liberia that covered more than 4,000 square kilometers (1 million acres).
The company sponsored The Voice of Firestone on the radio beginning on December 1928. The program was transferred to television as an NBC simulcast on 5 September 1949. The last broadcast was in 1963.
In 1928 the company built a factory in Brentford, England, for long an Art Deco landmark on a major route into the city. This closed in 1979.
During World War II the company was called on by the U.S. Government to make artillery shells, aluminum kegs for food transport and other rubberized military products. In the 1940s, Firestone was given a defense contract to produce plastic helmet liners. While outproduced by Westinghouse Electric they still made a fair amount for the M1 

Firestone first plant

Firestone first office

In 1951, Firestone was given the defense contract for the MGM-5 Corporal missile. Firestone was given a total of US$6,888,796 for the first 200 Missiles. This missile was known as the "Embryo of the Army" and was a surface-to-surface guided missile which could deliver a high explosive warhead up to 75 nautical miles (139 km). It was later modified to be able to carry a nuclear payload for use in the event of Cold War hostilities in Eastern Europe. This missile was replaced in 1962 by the MGM-29 Sergeant system.
In 1961, Firestone acquired the Dayton Tire division from the Dayco Corporation.
Firestone MGM-5 Corporal missile

Restructuring and sale to Bridgestone

In late 1979, Firestone brought in John Nevin, the ex-head of Zenith Electronics, as president to save the hemorrhaging company from total collapse. It was more than a billion dollars in debt at the time, and losing 250 million dollars a year. Nevin closed nine of the company's seventeen manufacturing plants, including six in one day. He moved the company from its ancestral home in Akron to Chicago. He spun off non-tire related businesses, including the Firestone Country Club. It was considered a deliberate plan to boost the stockprice, and it paid off. In 1988 after discussions with Pirelli, Nevin negotiated the sale of the company to the Japanese company Bridgestone. Bridgestone Corporation Japan was able to buy the company for much less than it had been worth a decade and a half earlier. The combined Bridgestone / Firestone North American operations are now based in Nashville, Tennessee.

A Firestone tire in Torreon, Mexico

Apart from tires, Firestone operates several businesses under the Firestone Diversified Products umbrella. These companies include Firestone Building Products, Firestone Industrial Products Company, Firestone Complete Auto Care, Firestone Natural Rubber Company and Firestone Specialty Products. Firestone Diversified Products is headquartered in Indianapolis, Indiana and operates in 23 U.S. states and ten countries, with 11,000 employees worldwide. Annually, the company reports annual sales of more than $2.5 billion.
In 1972 Firestone received a ten year import "concession" by the Kenyan government to secure Firestone's investment in a domestic tire plant, which gave it a virtual monopoly. This included both general price and foreign exchange controls. When the ten year period came to an end in 1979, Firestone retaliated by increasing production, making entry less attractive. Headquarters eventually canceled expansion and failed negotiations lead to no further investments.

Firestone headquarters in Nashvile, Tennessee

Bridgestone-Firestone headquarters in Arkon 1990