Harvey S. Firestone (1868-1938) was a native of Columbiana, Ohio. He began manufacturing rubber tires in 1896, and founded the Firestone Tire and Rubber Company in Akron, Ohio in 1900.
He secured a bank loan of $4,500 which allowed him to rent an old foundry, including some equipment. He started off with just a dozen employees. In 1906 he sold a huge order of tires (2000 sets) to Henry Ford. This transaction helped forge what would be a lifelong friendship between the two. By 1910, Firestone profit hit $1 million.
In 1918, Firestone began to promote the "ship by truck" movement. It encouraged trucking as a major delivery option for manufacturers (and also sold more tires). In the mid 1920's Firestone also launched a new business venture to help serve the needs of the nation's motorists: a one-stop shopping and automobile service center: Firestone Tire and Service Center. In 1932, Firestone focused on the agricultural market and developed the first low-pressure tractor tire.
Harvey Firestone died in 1938, but his company continued to thrive and expanded to become a global entity. Bridgestone purchased Firestone in 1988 for $2.6 billion, with the combined company being the world’s largest tire and rubber company.
At right, a photo shows President Warren G. Harding and Harvey Firestone on a camping trip to Maryland in July 1921. The camping trip was one of many that automobile manufacturer Henry Ford, Firestone, and inventor Thomas Edison took between 1916 and 1924. Harding was invited to this particular trip, which became known as "Camp Harding."
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