Bridgestone Americas this week announced two appointments to lead the company’s Aiken County facilities.
Ron Brooks was appointed to plant manager at the company’s new off-road radial tire plant, while Fran Jones accepted the position of plant manager at the passenger and light-truck manufacturing facility, both of which are located in Graniteville.
Jones comes to her new position after serving as vice president of administrative services at the off-road tire plant, and she will succeed John Stewart, who was recently appointed plant manager for the company’s operations in Warren County, Tennessee.
“I think the future is bright for both facilities,” Jones said of the outlook for the Aiken County facilities. “We’ve probably added from 20 to 40 people a month, if you count both plants.”
Jones, who is also an officer on the Greater Aiken Chamber of Commerce board of directors, said production at the passenger and light-truck plant has been steadily increasing, and the plant is now manufacturing more than 30,000 tires per day.
“We’re on target,” she said. “Our full capacity at the end of the equipment installation will be 37,000 tires per day, just for the passenger tire plant.”
Brooks was not available for an interview. According to a statement from Bridgestone, he has spent much of his career with the company and has managed the company’s tire operations in Warren County, Tennessee; LaVergne, Tennessee; and Bloomington, Illinois.
Jones said construction of the off-road tire plant is complete, and the plant is now producing tires; however, those tires are only for a “qualification process” and not for marketplace sale.
Jones said a date for when the tires will be released for sale is not available, but the plant’s anticipated grand opening is in November.
The off-road plant will produce 12-foot, 12,000-pound tires to be used for large, off-road mining trucks. It is part of the $1.2 billion investment announced by Bridgestone in September 2011; it is still one of the largest capital investments in South Carolina history.
Once it is complete and production is up and running, Aiken County will be home to one of the world’s largest manufacturers of Bridgestone tires.
Barry Owens, vice president of manufacturing for Bridgestone Americas Tire Operations, has confidence in Brooks’ and Jones’ leadership of the facilities.
“Ron possesses three decades of manufacturing expertise and has a wealth of plant leadership experience, making him the perfect fit to lead our new (off-road radial) operations in Aiken County,” Owens said in a statement. “Fran has made a huge impact for Bridgestone as a lead in human resources. She will continue to produce great results as the new (passenger) plant manager in Aiken, and her track record of success will only increase with time.”
Teddy Kulmala covers the crime and courts beat for the Aiken Standard and has been with the newspaper since August 2012. He is a native of Williston and majored in communication studies at Clemson University.