Everyone knows the Goodyear Blimp, the first of which was flown in 1925 and an icon in American advertising. Behind this famous marketing stunt is none other than the Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company, perhaps the world’s most successful tire company with a history dating back to 1898. Goodyear describes its global purpose as that of increasing the values of the brands they hold in order to deliver products and service of the highest quality to their customers. Named after Charles Goodyear, the man who invented vulcanized rubber in 1839 and thus made it possible to create rubber tires, the company has built a solid reputation on its ability to live up to its word.
Goodyear started out as an inauspicious venture by Frank Seiberling. He bought the company’s first factory with money loaned from his brother-in-law. The rubber and cotton to be used in the business had difficulty getting transported and costs were high. Goodyear’s first products were bicycle and carriage tires, horseshoe pads and poker chips. However, Seiberling stuck it out and was rewarded when the bicycle industry suddenly prospered and the automobile came into style. Then came Henry Ford of Ford Automobiles, and Goodyear struck gold by becoming the company’s supplier of racing tires. Goodyear began experimenting with tire designs and airship designs, which led to its commission by the US Army to make airships and balloons in World War I.
Goodyear’s initial success in its early years fuelled the company’s drive and in the next years, saw much growth as it reached multinational corporation status. Today, Goodyear sees sales of more than 20 billion US dollars annually. It operates 23 manufacturing plants in North America, 5 in Eastern Europe, Middle East and Africa, 9 in Latin America and 10 in the Asia Pacific region. The company has research and development centers, tire proving grounds, close to 2,000 retail outlets and some 160 warehouses around the world.