Is Bridgestone American, Mexican, Or Japanese?

It’s a sort of all
BY: DUSTY RHODES

The Firestone Tire & Rubber Company, founded by Harvey Firestone in Akron, Ohio in 1900, and the Bridgestone Tire Company, founded by Shojiro Ishibashi in Japan in 1931, merged in 1988 when Bridgestone bought out Firestone, transforming the companies’ combined operations into the world’s largest tire and rubber company.

You don’t have to be an alert driver to have noticed the Bridgestone dealership on the fourlane as you come into town. It’s across from the Pemex station.

It looks uncomfortably jam packed with cars, and you wonder how there could be that many tire customers in Cabo. Simple answer: they aren’t all tire customers. When tropical storm Lydia hit us last year, all that water washed away the Chevrolet dealership. Almost literally. The building stood its ground but was filled to the ceiling with rushing sand and water. All the cars were swept away, some floating as far as the beach, others caught in the tree behind the showroom. It looked like the Chevys were growing on trees.

They’ve been very slow to dig out and regroup with new cars. But eventually the new car “salesroom” was moved to the parking lot at Wal-Mart with a trailer as an office. The service end of the car dealership was moved to the Bridgestone facility. When you drive onto the Bridgestone property, nearly all the cars are lined up for the Chevy service bays, with Bridgestone retaining only two service bays for themselves.

So, although it’s a bit of a struggle to find room on the lot, you do get your Bridgestone work turned around very quickly, usually in one day, despite the mayhem the lot looks like.

Antonio Vasquez, who grew up in Arizona and so speaks perfect English, is general manager of Bridgestone and twirled us around the place, showing us the storage room where there are more tires than we thought existed in all of Cabo. This includes agricultural tires that stand about as tall as a man, and small motorcycle tires, too.

But this Bridgestone is more than just tires, they also change oil, do lube jobs, and generally take care of anything on the underneath and front end of your car. Or tractor.

Currently, they have a new fleet program. You sign up your company cars, from two on up to many, and Bridgestone takes care of each car or truck, billing you at the end of the month. They keep a record of each vehicle and send you an alert when one needs an oil change or a tire rotated or anything else you’ve signed up for. 

“You don’t need to rely on your drivers to tell you when to take the vehicle in, nor do you need to send him with a check,” explains Antonio. “We are on top of your fleet and simply bill you at the end of the month.” It’s also a good deal financially, he adds.

Bridgestone is owned by an old La Paz family that has been in this business for three generations. They also have two Bridgestone dealerships in La Paz. And, they own the Ace hardware in downtown Cabo. The plan is to sell the current Bridgestone to Chevrolet and move the tire store next to Ace, where there’s room for a couple of service bays. Look for that move in the next few months. Well, maybe a bit more, as they haven’t even broken ground at the Ace yet and they’re going to need a hoist. Probably not an item at the local Home Depot.