Saturday, April 30, 2016
The breaking up and reuniting of Bridgestone, Firestone, and Ford
This is not a fiction. This is a real story that is consolidated from a number of media reports and an academic paper.
In the American auto industry, the breakup of Ford and Firestone has been perhaps one of the most talked about topics.
Their friendship goes back to 1906 when Henry Ford placed a large order of pneumatic tires to Harvey Firestone. Henry Ford is the founder of Ford Motor. Harvey Firestone is the founder of Firestone.
The marriage of the automaker and the tire maker survived the next century. It suddenly ended in 2000 when the Ford Explorer sports utility vehicles toppled on American highways. The cause of the accidents was burst tires. The Explorer had Firestone tires.
Bridgestone/Firestone CEO Masatoshi Ono said, “I have come to apologize to the families who have lost their loved ones in the terrible rollover accidents,” in American congress.
The Ono successor, John Lampe, also apologized and said, “Firestone tires are completely safe.” Ford CEO Jacques Nasser disagreed and said the accident was “a tire issue.”
The dispute ended in 2005 as Bridgestone paid $240 million to Ford Motor to settle the case.
Conventional ideas are that apologies are to be avoided if you do not want to be prosecuted. Bridgestone/Firestone CEOs, Ono and Lampe, have defied this convention.
If I did not study this case I would have said, “Don’t apologize, unless it is absolutely necessary,” to my students, but now I am not sure if I would say the same.
There is nothing wrong with expressing sorrow before the family members of victims who died in traffic accidents. In this sense, both Ono and Lampe did the right thing.
Yet, I still have a question. Who is the real survivor of the dispute? Any ideas?