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Have you ever noticed how similar the names Bridgestone and Firestone are and wondered if the two auto industry supply companies are actually one and the same? The fascinating truth is that though Bridgestone currently owns Firestone, the two companies were founded separately. Their similar names may be a complete coincidence.

Are Firestone and Bridgestone the same company?

Bridgestone Tires acquired Firestone in 1988. Today, the two brands share manufacturing and R&D facilities. Firestone and Bridgestone are parallel lines of tires under the same company.

A woman pushes a stroller past a Bridgestone/Firestone tire outlet store with several vehicles on lifts having their tires changed.
Bridgestone/Firestone tire shop in Chile | Jeffrey Greenberg/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Firestone is one of the world’s oldest tire companies. It began manufacturing solid rubber tires in 1900. Later it moved into the air-filled (pneumatic) segment and the automobile tire market. The company is named after its founder: Harvey Firestone.

In 1931, Shojiro Ishibashi founded his own tire company in Kyobashi, Japan. The Ishibashi surname means “stone bridge” in Japanese, so he named his company Bridgestone Tires. By 1931, Firestone was already one of the world’s largest manufacturers, having expanded from its original Ohio factory by building plants in California and England. As Ishibashi considered different names for his new company, “Bridgestone’s” similarity to Firestone must have seemed a marketing bonus.

Fast-forward to 1988, and the Firestone Tire and Rubber Company struggled to stay afloat. Despite the company retaining Harvey Firestone’s original contract to build tires for every new Ford vehicle, it was spread too thin with 17 production facilities worldwide. As a result, it was carrying over one billion dollars in debt and losing $250 million more every year. The CEO talked to multiple buyers, including Pirelli. Then Bridgestone stepped in.

Does Firestone make Bridgestone?

Bridgestone Tires bought Firestone in 1988, and folded Firestone’s multiple production facilities into its own network. Today, tires from the Firestone and Bridgestone lines share manufacturing but are all technically built by Bridgestone Tires.

A Bridgestone tire on a parked car, covered in slushy snow.
Bridgestone Tire | Artur Widak/NurPhoto via Getty Images

After the 1988 purchase, Bridgestone invested heavily in Firestone’s products and manufacturing facilities. The new corporation turned things around within five years, and the Bridgestone North America umbrella company was again profitable.

The new corporation was not without its growing pains. Disputes between Firestone and plant worker unions between 1994 and 1996 likely contributed to a severe drop in tire quality. By 1996, multiple experts agreed that failing Firestone tires contributed to a rash of new Ford Explorer SUV rollovers–though Ford Motor Company also mishandled the situation. Ford and Firestone decided not to renew their contract in 2001.

Who is Bridgestone owned by?

Bridgestone Tires–parent of Firestone–is a publically traded company based in Japan. The majority shareholders are descendants of its founder: Shojiro Ishibashi. Today, Bridgestone’s headquarters are in Tokyo Square Garden.

A man walks by the Bridgestone logo written in both English and Japanese, on a white wall.
Bridgestone logo | Tomohiro Ohsumi/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Bridgestone operates tire manufacturing plants around the globe, so many Firestone tires are still built in the U.S.A. The American subsidiary of Bridgestone (Bridgestone Americas) is headquartered in Nashville, Tennessee.

Next, read how Bugatti became the most innovates sports car company in the world a century ago or learn more about the Bridgestone tire company in the video below: