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History of Firestone

Firestone imageHarvey Firestone moved to Akron, Ohio, in 1900 and started a rubber tire company to support what he believed would be the next big industry. At first, he simply produced rubber tires for horse-drawn carriages but, within a few years, the work of his friend Henry Ford would help make them both millionaires.

Before Henry Ford started his revolutionary car company in 1905, automobiles were much too expensive for the average person. By streamlining production, Ford was able to make cars a possibility for the masses. When it came time to fit his cars with tires, Ford turned to his friend Henry Firestone. After Ford began to order Firestone tires in 1905, Firestone had to increase its workforce more than tenfold to help meet demand. In 1906, the Firestone Tire and Rubber Company topped sales of $1 million, and, by 1910, the company had produced more than 1 million tires.

In 1911, the first Indianapolis 500 auto race was held. Firestone tires were used on several of the cars, including the winner. This achievement not only made Firestone a leader in the racing market, but also helped to spread the company's name throughout the United States. For the next 46 consecutive years, every winner of the famous Indy race was equipped with Firestone tires. Though competitors would begin to share the racing market, Firestone tires continued to play a major role, with many winners throughout the 1990s and early 21st century relying on this brand.

In the 1920s, Firestone became a household name. The company set up service centers so customers could buy or service tires directly with Firestone itself. Also during this time, the popular "Voice of Firestone" radio program was created and ran for 36 years. During this time, listeners could tune in weekly to hear company and auto news, as well as other features. By the 1930s, Firestone owned nearly 600 stores and had a manufacturing presence in dozens of international countries. In 1935, Firestone and its competitor Goodyear were among the leading tire manufacturers in the world. As workers throughout the country formed unions and sought improved working conditions, the employees at Firestone and Goodyear joined to form the United Rubber Workers union. Through peaceful, well-organized sit-ins, the union won benefits ranging from shorter workdays to safer conditions.

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