The Bridgestone Corporation may have its fingers in a few different pies – it manufactures automotive components, construction materials, and even bicycles – but it’s best known as the biggest tyre manufacturer in the world.
History of Bridgestone Tire Company
The company started in Japan as Bridgestone Tire Company Ltd, founded by Shojiro Ishibashi in 1931. The company was actually preceded by its product, with the first Bridgestone tyre being made in 1930 by the tyre division of Ishibashi’s previous company. However, in 1931, he made the tyre division independent and it became Bridgestone. The name of the company comes from its founder’s name, Ishibashi meaning ‘stone bridge’ in Japanese.
In 1951, Bridgestone became the first company in Japan to sell rayon cord tyres and in 1953, the company’s sales were in excess of ten billion yen, which made them the top tyre manufacturer in Japan at the time. In 1967, the company produced its first radial tyre, the RD10. In 1978, the company introduced its Super Filler Radial tyre and in 1979, the POTENZA radial tyre was introduced, named after an Italian word for power.
In 1981, the company began to expand, opening production facilities in Thailand, India, Poland, China, the United States and other countries. In 1984, the company changed its name from Bridgestone Tire Co Ltd. to Bridgestone Corporation.
Bridgestone is arguably the most globally present of the major tyre manufacturers. As of April 2011, Bridgestone had 47 tyre plants, 29 tyre-related plants, 19 raw materials plants, 89 diversified products plants, 4 technical centres and 11 proving grounds globally.
These facilities are spread across many continents and are located in countries such as, but not limited to, France, Italy, Spain, Brazil, Canada, Mexico, the United States, Australia, China, India, Japan, and South Africa.
Bridgestone’s head office is in Brussells, Belgium and the company’s presence is strongest in Europe. That being said, the UK is the only main market where Bridgestone does not have any factories. However, there is a technical bay/inspection centre in Coventry.
Bridgestone in Australia
It wasn’t until 1981 that “Bridgestone” became an Australian-known word, with The Bridgestone Tire Co. Ltd buying a large share in an Australian company, Uniroyal, in late 1980. Uniroyal changed its name to Bridgestone Holdings Ltd in 1981.