The leadership of Bridgestone Americas Inc. is in transition. Today the company announced the end-of-year retirement of its CEO, president and executive chairman, Gary Garfield.
The company helm will transition to Gordon Knapp, the company’s COO who will become president and CEO effective Sept. 1, 2016. The company hopes that the overlap, with Garfield as adviser during those four months, will allow for a smooth transition of leadership. He will also retire from his position as executive vice president and executive officer of Bridgestone Americas’ parent company, Bridgestone Corp., effective Aug. 31. William “Bill” Thompson, the company’s current chief financial officer (CFO), will succeed Knapp as COO on that same date.
“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,” said Masaaki Tsuya, Bridgestone Corp.’s CEO, representative board member and chairman of the board. “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… he will be missed.”
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 executive chairman. Over the last years, he also was promoted to a series of executive positions within the global organization, ultimately culminating in the position of executive officer and executive vice president of parent company, Bridgestone Corporation.
Garfield also served as chair of the Rubber Manufacturers Association (RMA).
“Gary’s commitment to transformational progress has been the hallmark of his leadership as the chair of the RMA Board of Directors,” said Anne Forristall Luke, RMA president and CEO. “Since his election as chair, Gary has devoted many hours helping RMA become a more active, engaged organization focused on delivering ever-increasing value to its members… His vision will have a lasting impact.”
Garfield describes his time at Bridgestone Americas as the “capstone” of his career. His legacy includes strong corporate growth, the new Nashville headquarters, and the attempted acquisition of Pep Boys.
“We have built an incredibly strong team (here), and I am confident that the company is in extremely good hands with the high-caliber leadership that Gordon and Bill will provide,” said Garfield in a statement released by the company. “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.”
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. He also currently serves as an executive officer and executive vice president of Bridgestone Corp. as well as on the Bridgestone Americas board of directors, a position he has held for more than six years.
Other organizational announcements are expected over the next several weeks and a search will be conducted for the role of CFO.