Bridgestone Americas Announces Retirement of CEO, President and Executive Chairman

Company unveils new leadership team

NASHVILLE, Tenn., July 27, 2016 /CNW/ -- Bridgestone Americas, Inc. today announced the retirement of its CEO, President and Executive Chairman Gary Garfield, effective Dec. 31, 2016. In order to effect a smooth transition to the company's new leadership team, Bridgestone Americas has announced that Gordon Knapp, the company's Chief Operating Officer (COO), will become Bridgestone Americas' President and CEO on Sept. 1, 2016, and William "Bill" Thompson, the company's current Chief Financial Officer (CFO), will succeed Knapp as COO on that date. Garfield will remain as an advisor to the company and the new leadership team until year-end. Garfield also will retire from his position as Executive Vice President and Executive Officer of Bridgestone Americas' parent company, Bridgestone Corporation, effective Aug. 31.

Masaaki Tsuya, Bridgestone Corporation's CEO, Representative Board Member and Chairman of the Board, expressed appreciation and gratitude to Garfield for his service and agreement to the company's request that he serve in an advisory role through the end of the year to support Bridgestone Americas and help ensure a seamless leadership transition. 

"On behalf of the Bridgestone Group, including the more than 50,000 teammates in the Americas, I would like to express our sincerest thanks to Gary for his 25 years of exceptional service to the company," Tsuya said. "Under Gary's dedicated leadership, Bridgestone Americas achieved six straight years of record business results, and he has led positive culture changes through the organization. His commitment to the company, our people and our customers is unequaled, and I know he will be missed."

"Leading Bridgestone Americas for the last six and a half years has been the capstone of my career. I'm so proud of the company's performance, but I believe my greatest legacy is establishing the foundation for a culture centered on true, open dialogue and innovation. We have built an incredibly strong team at Bridgestone Americas, and I am confident that the company is in extremely good hands with the high-caliber leadership that Gordon and Bill will provide. It has been my great privilege and honor to lead and work with the Bridgestone Americas team. However, there are still some avenues I'd like to explore, both personally and professionally, and leaving now gives me time to pursue those opportunities." 

Garfield noted that he and his wife plan to remain in Nashville, and they look forward to the opportunity to spend more time with their two new grandchildren.     

Garfield initially joined Bridgestone Americas in the legal department in 1991, eventually rising to the position of Vice President, General Counsel, Chief Compliance Officer and Secretary of Bridgestone Americas. In March 2010, he was promoted to Bridgestone Americas' CEO and President, and in January 2016 he was named as Executive Chairman of Bridgestone Americas. Over the last years, he also was promoted to a series of executive positions within Bridgestone Corporation, ultimately culminating in the position of Executive Officer and Executive Vice President of Bridgestone Americas' parent company, Bridgestone Corporation.  

In describing the decision to select Knapp to lead Bridgestone Americas, Tsuya said, "Gordon brings a tremendous wealth of corporate experience and demonstrated success to this new leadership role. He's worked in consumer products his entire professional career, leading the operations of some of the world's leading brands and has been with us for three years in roles of increasing responsibility.  He is clearly ready to step into this new leadership role."   

Knapp has spent his career – both in the U.S. and internationally – in the consumer products area leading the operations of many of the world's foremost brands. Prior to Bridgestone Americas, Knapp served as President, Family Care North Atlantic, Consumer Tissue Division for Kimberly-Clark. He also has held leadership positions in the consumer products businesses for Pfizer, Inc. and for Warner-Lambert, Inc.  

Knapp's leadership team will include Thompson as COO. Tsuya noted Thompson's extensive experience with the company saying, "Bill has been with Bridgestone Americas for 20 years. He has worked across the company and has a keen financial understanding of every aspect of our company. We're fortunate to have Bill's talent and knowledge as he undertakes the COO responsibilities." 

Thompson served as West Zone Manager for U.S. Commercial Tire Sales in 2011 and was named Bridgestone Americas Controller in 2012. Prior to being named CFO in May 2014, he served as Vice President of Finance for Bridgestone Americas. He has broad experience within the company, having held positions in the retail, manufacturing, sales and corporate groups. He joined the company in 1996.

Tsuya also announced that Eduardo Minardi, Executive Chairman at Bridgestone Americas' sister company, Bridgestone Europe, Middle East, Africa (BSEMEA), will serve concurrently as Chairman of the Bridgestone Americas Board of Directors. He will maintain his current role in Brussels, Belgium, which he assumed approximately two and half years ago. He also currently serves as an Executive Officer and Executive Vice President of Bridgestone Corporation as well as on the Bridgestone Americas Board of Directors, a position he has held for more than six years. Minardi's previous work for Bridgestone Americas has spanned 27 years and included roles with increasing responsibility across Latin America prior to appointment as Bridgestone Americas COO in 2010.

Other organizational announcements are expected to be made over the next few weeks and a search will be conducted to fill the role of CFO.     

Biographical information:

Gordon Knapp
Gordon Knapp assumed his role as Chief Operating Officer (COO) of Bridgestone Americas, Inc. in March 2014. In addition, he also serves as Vice President and Senior Officer of Bridgestone Corporation and is a member of the Board of Bridgestone Americas, Inc.

As COO, he is responsible for ensuring the execution of day-to-day tasks necessary to achieve the company's vision of undisputed leadership. As such, Knapp plays a key role in helping to oversee human resource alignments, operations strategy and policies, and works to foster employee alignment with corporate goals.

Under Knapp's leadership, Bridgestone Americas has strengthened its focus on delivering value to consumers through innovation and achieving operational excellence. Knapp brings invaluable experience, including a strong global mindset built by living and working internationally throughout his career.

Knapp joined the company in 2013 as President, Consumer Tire, Bridgestone Americas Tire Operations North America.  He previously served as President of the Kimberly-Clark Corporation, Family Care North Atlantic, Consumer Tissue Division, as well as President and Vice President of North America Consumer Brands at Pfizer, Inc., where he gained experience in leading operations for iconic brands such as Kleenex, Viva, Listerine and Schick.

Knapp received his bachelor's degree in business administration from Trent University, and his MBA from the University of Western Ontario.  He lives in Brentwood, Tenn., with his wife and their two sons.

Bill Thompson
Bill Thompson serves as Chief Financial Officer (CFO) and is a member of the board for Bridgestone Americas, Inc. (BSAM). In 2014, he was also named Vice President of Bridgestone Corporation. As CFO, Thompson oversees all aspects of the finance, accounting and shared services functions of the organization.

Since joining the company as Senior Financial Analyst of the Southeast Zone in 1996, Thompson has held numerous financial positions for retail, manufacturing, sales and corporate groups. In 2011, Thompson served as West Zone Manager for U.S. Commercial Tire Sales, where he later took on the role as Controller of BSAM in 2012. Most recently he served as Vice President of Finance for BSAM.

Thompson is a native of Huntington, N.Y. He received a bachelor's degree in economics at State University of New York Stony Brook, and a master's degree in finance from Georgia State University. He currently lives in Brentwood, Tenn., with his wife and three sons. 

Eduardo Minardi
For the last two and half years, Eduardo Minardi has served as Executive Chairman at Bridgestone Americas' sister company, Bridgestone Europe, Middle East, Africa (BSEMEA), which is based in Brussels, Belgium.  He also has served as an Executive Officer and Executive Vice President of Bridgestone Corporation since January 2016 as well as on the Bridgestone Americas Board of Directors, a position he has held for more than six years.

Minardi served as the Chief Operating Officer of Bridgestone Americas, Inc. from March 1, 2010 to March 2014.  Prior to that role, beginning in 2007 he served as a Bridgestone Americas Executive Vice President and President of the Latin American Tire Division, Bridgestone Americas Tire Operations, where he was responsible for overseeing the company's operations throughout the region, including six manufacturing facilities as well as sales subsidiaries throughout Latin America. Minardi began his career with Bridgestone Americas in 1989 as a Product Manager in Bridgestone Firestone Argentina, S.A.I.C., accepting roles of increasing responsibility, including President of that company in 2001, and was promoted to President of Bridgestone Firestone de Mexico, S.A. de C.V. in 2002.

Minardi received his bachelor's degree in economics from Buenos Aires University. He has completed the CEO Management Program at Northwestern University and the Leadership Program at the Owens Graduate School of Vanderbilt University. Before joining the Bridgestone Americas family of companies, Minardi worked in the banking industry in Argentina, as well as a consultant in organizational and strategic planning.  He also has served as professor of economics at the Universidad de Lomas de Zamora (U.N.L.Z) in Argentina.

About Bridgestone Americas, Inc.:
Nashville, Tennessee-based Bridgestone Americas, Inc. (BSAM) is the U.S. subsidiary of Bridgestone Corporation, the world's largest tire and rubber company. BSAM and its subsidiaries develop, manufacture and market a wide range of Bridgestone, Firestone and associate brand tires to address the needs of a broad range of customers, including consumers, automotive and commercial vehicle original equipment manufacturers, and those in the agricultural, forestry and mining industries. The companies are also engaged in retreading operations throughout the Western Hemisphere and produce air springs, roofing materials, and industrial fibers and textiles. The BSAM family of companies also operates the world's largest chain of automotive tire and service centers. Guided by its One Team, One Planet message, the company is dedicated to achieving a positive environmental impact in all of the communities it calls home.



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