Bridgestone is one rolling stone that gathers no moss. Vying with Michelin to be the world's largest tire maker, Bridgestone makes tires for a variety of vehicle types. In addition to passenger and commercial vehicle tires, the company makes tires for construction and mining vehicles, agricultural machinery, and aircraft. It also manufactures a range of non-tire products, including consumer products like golf balls and bicycles, polyurethane foam for industrial applications, and adhesive film for the solar industry. Bridgestone operates some 180 manufacturing plants in 25 countries and sells its products worldwide.
In response to declining consumer demand, skyrocketing rubber prices, and the unpredictable global economy, the company has reworked its long-term growth strategy in an effort to streamline its operations and increase revenue in targeted business areas. The strategy - implemented in 2008 - focuses on closing and restructuring operations in certain businesses to cut costs (It sold two steel cord production facilities in Italy and China to Bekaert in 2010.) and increasing production at its plants in emerging markets. (For instance, it is ramping up tire production in China, India, and Brazil to meet growing consumer demand in the regions.) Other key aspects of its strategy include bolstering its commercial and specialty passenger tire businesses, particularly its runflat and UHP (ultra-high-performance) replacement passenger tires.
In 2010 tires accounted for more than 80% of Bridgestone's revenues; about three-quarters of its sales were earned overseas. After being hit hard by the economic downturn in 2008 and 2009, the company saw its sales and profits bounce back in 2010, an improvement that it attributes to its renewed strategic direction and an uptick in the global economy.
Bridgestone is also looking to its diversified products business segment to fuel its long-term growth. It is investing in the research and development of eco-friendly products, such as adhesive films for solar cells, which hold promise for growth as the renewable energy sector expands. The company is also rolling out an eco-friendly tire as well, the ECOPIA, which it markets in China, India, and other countries. In addition, it continues to manufacture peripheral consumer products for Japan and elsewhere, such as Bridgestone-branded golf balls and clubs, as well as bicycles and related accessories.
The company operates through more than 50 major subsidiaries and affiliates. In the US, subsidiary Bridgestone Americas operates the Bridgestone Retail Operations and Firestone Diversified Products businesses. – less