Bridgestone Americas Tube Business (BATB), based in Russellville, Ark., celebrated 50 years of manufacturing inner tube products and supporting its local community as a business partner and community member. The facility produced its first butyl inner tube on Oct. 24, 1964, manufacturing 14,650 units per day. Fifty years later, the plant has the capacity to produce more than 20 million lbs. of rubber per year and offers the most comprehensive product line in the industry. The Russellville plant is the only remaining tube producer in U.S. and Canada, according to Bridgestone.
“It is an honor to be an active member of the River Valley business community for 50 years,” said Scott Gateley, general manager, tube business, Bridgestone Americas Tire Operations. “Since the plant opened its doors in 1964, this plant has been at the forefront of tube manufacturing and related technologies. We are proud of the work we have accomplished and grateful for the tremendous support of the River Valley community all these years.”
Originally a 136,000 sq. ft. manufacturing facility, the Russellville plant has experienced five expansions in its 50-years of existence and today encompasses 320,000 sq. ft. It has employed more than 2,000 employees or teammates. In 1973, the plant was selected by Exxon Laboratories to assist in the development of an ENJAY splicer prototype model to support the advent of radial tires. The machine became the standard for quality splicing worldwide.
Other innovations originating from the plant include the development of a premium natural rubber compound for use in forestry and racing applications and the introduction of a rear farm severe service product line to provide farmers with a premium butyl tractor tube.
Other significant plant accomplishments include ISO 9000 certification for its Quality Management Systems in 1999, ISO 14001 certification for Environmental Management in 2003, and it was the recipient of a Chief Executive Officer Safety Recognition Award in 2011 for achieving one million hours without a lost-time injury.
Over the past 50 years, BATB has invested in the tube business, as well as the River Valley community with its time, money and efforts. Organizations have benefited from teammates volunteering in educational, athletic and fundraiser programs for various charities. The facility is celebrating its golden anniversary with a commemorative event at its location for teammates, local and state government officials, community leaders and business partners.