Firestone Name Dropped by Bridgestone America
As a final addendum to the numerous Bridgestone-based restructuring announcements made today, the company has decided to retire the Firestone name from its corporate identity in many territories of the Americas. The manufacturer said that the removal of Firestone, which will come into effect on 1 January, 2009, is designed to reflect the place within Bridgestone of the Japanese giant’s subsidiaries and simplify the brand for the public.
Mark Emkes, chairman and CEO of Bridgestone Americas Holdings in Nashville, TN, said that the Firestone name will be retained “with its own identity as a historic product and service brand” within the new corporate structure. It was also pointed out that in the case of Bridgestone Firestone Diversified Products – the subsidiary making Firestone-branded roofing materials, air springs, textiles and natural rubber – the name to be dropped will be Bridgestone’s. The company will be renamed Firestone Diversified Products at the beginning of next year.
Name changes that do drop the Firestone name include: Bridgestone Firestone North American Tire, which becomes Bridgestone Americas Tire Operations; BFS Retail & Commercial Operations, which operates the Firestone Complete Auto Care and Tires Plus outlets, will be renamed Bridgestone Retail Operations (though the stores will keep the Firestone name); Bridgestone Firestone Latin American Tire Operations, which will become the Latin American Tire division; Bridgestone Firestone de Mexico, which will be renamed Bridgestone de-Mexico; and Bridgestone Firestone Canada, which will be renamed Bridgestone Canada. One renaming drops both names: Bridgestone Firestone Latin American Tire Operations will become the Latin American Tire division.
“We will be renaming our companies in a way that will clearly define Bridgestone Americas and its subsidiaries as members of the global Bridgestone Group,” Emkes said in a prepared statement. “Through this effort we will provide Firestone with its own identity as a historic product and service brand, and we will take a long step forward toward eliminating confusion as to our overall corporate identity.” The restructuring and new alignment of the Americas tyre business “will align us more closely with the regional business model that Bridgestone Corp. is promoting for all of its global tire operations,” he concluded.
The company will continue to keep and promote the Firestone name on tyres and other products, said company spokeswoman, Christine Karbowiak. “The Firestone tire brand ain’t going anywhere,” she exclaimed. “We are going to continue to support it and build on it. . . . We’re not going to mess with success,” she went on to rhyme.
Company research suggests that many people ask whether units are Firestone Bridgestone or Bridgestone Firestone, Karbowiak said. “We continue to confuse the heck out of people,” she quipped. Therefore, the new names and restructuring are intended in part to help differentiate the Bridgestone and Firestone brands, she explained. Separately, as part of the restructuring, it was announced that Karbowiak will become the first woman to serve as a member of a Bridgestone Group board of directors.