AKRON, OH. Putting its money where its mouth is— via significant investments in new Firestone truck-tire offerings and the technology that goes into them--  Bridgestone Commercial Solutions is firmly  positioning its Firestone brand as “the number-one Tier Two commercial truck tire in America.”

What’s more, the Nashville-based tire maker has launched a street-level campaign to vigorously promote the brand over the next year to truck-tire customers as well as its dealers.

“Our goals are to sell more tires, make more money and build our brands. Doing that, creates a ‘cycle of success,’” Philip Dobbs, chief marketing officer for Bridgestone Americas Tire Operations, told members of the truck and tire trade media gathered here yesterday for an all-day informational “boot camp.”

The event was held at the sleekly high-tech campus of the $100-million Bridgestone Americas Technical Center (ACT), which opened in April of last year.

Noting that Bridgestone and Bandag are the company’s two premium brands, and that Dayton is its  “value” brand, Dobbs stated that the tire maker is currently heavily engaged in “reinvigorating” Firestone as its mid-level brand in the commercial-vehicle marketplace.

 “We’re marking 2013 as the ‘Year of Firestone,” he added. “But [success] depends on putting great product on the road.”

Matthew Stevenson, vp of marketing for Bridgestone Commercial Solutions, explained that there are three “target markets” for Firestone truck tires: owner-operators, small businesses, and Firestone dealers.

Turning to how new Firestone products will appeal to customers, he pointed out that truck operators are dealing with “the rising cost of trucking, including climbing fuel costs and increased regulations, such as greenhouse-gas rules, as well as escalating raw material costs [affecting tire costs].”

Stevenson said the advanced features of the trio of Firestone “eco products”— the FS591 steer, FS691 drive and FS491 all-position tires— “promise up to 19% longer life and an increase in fuel economy of 1%. Accordingly, he said those gains can reduce operating costs by 7%.

Those three tires, which are designed for “regional to long-haul use,” were rolled out at this year’s Mid-America Trucking Show and came on the market this spring.

Bridgestone engineer Todd Buxton explained that the FS591 steer radial boasts rib and side groove designs to provide for smooth, even wear and lower rolling resistance. He said the FD691 drive radial features a similar continuous shoulder design and a high-rigidity tread pattern to provide the same advantages in the drive position, while the FT491 brings those design features to an all-position radial.

“All three tires share our innovative sidewall design,” Buxton also pointed out. “It was developed to reduce mass in areas where it’s not needed to improve rolling resistance.

A media tour of the extensive ACT facilities where the technology in the aforementioned Firestone tires was developed included a look into the “Innovations Labs” unit.

A tour guide described this section as a “research facility that aids in the development of innovative products, both tire and non-tire, and pioneers innovative test procedures.” The lab’s focus is primarily on matters related to noise and vibration, tire/vehicle systems, tire mechanics and new concepts.

Turning back to promoting the Firestone brand, Bridgestone Commercial Solutions revealed its educational “Firestone Drives America Tour.” It was described as a “traveling road show that will cross the country, celebrating an iconic American brand and introducing new Firestone commercial truck tires to fleets and drivers.” 

The tour will also afford those who hold a valid U. S. Commercial Driver’s License and who own or operate a Class 7 or 8 vehicle the opportunity to enter the “Drive a Firestone Sweepstakes,” the grand prize of which will be the customized “Firestone Edition” Class 8 tractor on display during the tour.

The tour, which began last evening here at an Akron Aeros minor-league ballgame, will conclude at the 2014 Mid-America Trucking Show in Louisville.

“Firestone is rooted in a rich history of trust and innovation,” remarked Stevenson. “For many, the F-shield is a source of confidence, pride and excitement.

“This promotional tour showcases both the excitement and admiration of the Firestone name and our latest Firestone-brand tires,” he added. “Andwe are eager to bring this innovation to customers across the country through this unique tour.”