The American subsidiary of Bridgestone Corp., the world's third-largest tire maker, announced plans Monday to move its corporate headquarters from Torrance to Nashville, Tenn.
All 165 executive, marketing and clerical employees at the Torrance office have been offered jobs at the new headquarters, according to the company. Bridgestone (U.S.A.) Inc. hopes to move by Aug. 1 to Nashville, 15 miles away from the company's manufacturing plant in LaVergne.
Rumors of the impending move have circulated through the company for more than a year, according to one clerical employee. "It was no big surprise to anyone," said the employee, who requested anonymity. "People aren't really upset. It was just a question of when." She said there might be more concern among workers later in the week, "once the news sinks in."
There had been some concern that only top executives would be offered jobs in Tennessee, the source said, but employees were relieved to learn "that they would take everyone with them."
Employees are to be be briefed on relocation plans during the week and have been invited to a Saturday meeting with realtors, tourist officials and other civic leaders from Nashville, according to Bridgestone spokesman Chris Nicely.
"There are concerns that Southern Californians would want to consider," Nicely said. "We want them to have all the facts up front--how bad the humidity is in the summer and how cold it gets in the winter. And then they can go back to their families and decide what they want to do." Employees will be remain at their same salaries in Nashville and will be offered full relocation benefits, Nicely said.
Bridgestone executives said the move will give the company better access to automobile manufacturers in the South and Midwest. The company has depended almost entirely on secondary sales, but hopes that its tires will soon be sold as original equipment on new cars, according to spokesman Al Goldberg. "We realized that for Bridgestone to become a major player in the U.S. tire industry, we had to make the move," Bridgestone (U.S.A.) President Norihiro Takeuchi said in a prepared statement.
Bridgestone will sell its headquarters on 190th Street in Torrance near the San Diego Freeway, Nicely said. Construction is under way on the Nashville headquarters.
Sixty employees in the company's Carson regional distribution center will not be affected by the move, Nicely said.