14 September 2016 marked 80 years since Harvey Firestone Jnr, together with first Managing Director John Cohill, officially opened the Port Elizabeth Firestone factory and the firm’s first South African-built tyre rolled off the assembly line.
Harvey purchased the first 7.06 morgen (approximately six hectare) site on the corner of Kempston and Harrower Roads for £750 in 1935 and in 1936, with 150 people working on site, produced 350 car tyres a day.
Firestone SA became part of Bridgestone, the world’s largest tyre manufacturer, in 1997 and is one of only a few companies which can boast an unbroken 80-year history of manufacturing in South Africa. Today, Bridgestone South Africa’s PE Plant has a total of 43 000 square metres of factory space, employs over 350 people and has a capacity of 800 tyres per day, ranging from 10kg front tractor tyres to earthmover tyres weighing up to 800kg.
Apart from being the only tyre company to manufacture bias truck tyres locally, Bridgestone also has a second plant, based in Brits, which opened in 1971. Bridgestone are fully committed to South Africa and look forward to many more years of producing quality tyres in the country.