The Bridgestone Americas Warren facility tops all other tire makers in the world in reducing the energy per unit of production, plant manager John Stewart told the McMinnville Noon Rotary Club on Thursday.
That achievement also means the atmospheric carbon pollution resulting from building a tire in Morrison would also be a global minimum, except for a sister Bridgestone plant in Canada where most electrical energy comes from non-polluting hydroelectric dams, Stewart noted. In the Tennessee Valley, more than half of electric generation occurs at coal-burning power plants, a leading source of heat-trapping emissions.
“Valuing natural resources is one of our major goals,” said Stewart, who became the Warren plant manager in August 2014. The local plant was recertified in that year for LEED Silver Level, a national recognition for energy management and conservation based on objective engineering and environmental-protection standards. Further progress will result from investing more than $1 million in replacing conventional lighting technology with energy-sipping LEDs.
Another key value at Bridgestone Warren is personnel safety, Stewart emphasized, explaining his operating technicians work with heavy, powerful machinery. The plant in Warren County became the country’s first tire manufacturer to join the Voluntary Protection Program of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).
In addition to its concentration on product quality, environmental integrity and employee safety, Stewart outlined the Tokyo- and Nashville-based company’s support of social well-being in the communities where it makes tires, membrane roofing materials and heavy-truck air springs under the Bridgestone, Firestone and Dayton brands.
In Warren County, Bridgestone provides major annual gifts to nonprofit service organizations ranging from Habitat for Humanity, Meals on Wheels, Kids of the Community, the Wildlife Habitat Council, Boy Scouts of America, the Children’s Advocacy Center, American Heart Association and Warren County schools.
Not only does the company offer financial support, but its employees volunteer hundreds of hours a year in labor in building affordable housing for qualifying families and to delivering meals to elderly and disabled shut-ins. The plant has donated thousands of dollars in heavy-duty truck tires to area volunteer fire departments.
“We want to be part of the community,” Stewart said, describing the Bridgestone corporate cultural that embraces “ethics, safety, quality and encouragement of innovation.”
Stewart also cited his company’s daily involvement in education for students in counties where its employees reside. As the most prominent feature of this corporate program, the Bridgestone Environ-mental Education Classroom Habitat (BEECH) has welcomed some 14,600 students to its dedicated facilities on the vast Bridgestone Warren site. Diane Parton, science teacher with the Warren County School System, directs the hands-on lessons in ecology, biological sciences, basic physics and wildlife studies in the natural settings.
The 1,094 employees and contractors at Bridgestone Warren, which began operations in 1990, build tires for trucks and buses. Sister plants in North America make products for passenger cars, farm tractors and the planet’s largest earth-moving machines, including a 13-foot-tall, 1,200-pound tire costing $110,000 used in the open-pit mining industry.
The local plant has a production capacity of 9,000 tires a day and is presently shipping an average of 8,800 units daily, Stewart said.